Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women campaign launching in South Dakota
RAPID CITY, S.D. — A national campaign that’s urging lawmakers to address the problem of murdered and missing indigenous women is launching in South Dakota.
Gov. Kristi Noem has voiced her support for the movement, known as MMIW, and will have a statement on the issue shared at a press conference on Thursday.
The campaign was initiated through a joint effort by the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council and the Global Indigenous Council.
Its goal is to protect indigenous women from sexual violence and homicide, as well as spread awareness through billboards and public outreach.
According to a 2018 report by the Associated Press, Indigenous women, who comprise of less than one percent of the total population, represent a disproportionately high number of ongoing missing person cases in the U.S.
Law enforcement agencies tasked with investigating reservation crimes have also been accused at times of inadequacy and poor coordination.
The first MMIW billboards will appear in Rapid City, before expanding into Montana, Alaska, Washington State, Arizona and New Mexico.
South Dakota was chosen as the starting point of the campaign because I-90 acts as a corridor for human trafficking between Billings, Montana and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
There’s also growing concern regarding the development of several workforce camps, commonly called “man camps,” in conjunction with construction of the Keystone Pipeline through western and central South Dakota.
The camps will be in close proximity to reservation boundaries, and some are expected to be occupied by up to 1,400 laborers as soon as this summer.
Cases of violence against women and sexual assault escalated at an alarming rate after several workforce camps were established in North Dakota, near the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.
According to Kandi Mossett, a spokesperson for the Indigenous Environmental Network, incidences of violence against women, especially rape, more than doubled in the area.
A press conference on the crisis, in which Gov. Kristi Noem’s statement will be shared, will begin at 11 a.m. on Thursday, January 17th, at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn.