Ever since Europeans came to America hundreds of years ago, they have been terrorizing Indigenous peoples. Attacks on Native Americans are still prevalent today, and Native women tend to face more violence. They are murdered, raped, and many go missing. Their stories are underreported in the media and their cases are insufficiently investigated for the most part. The Urban Indian Health Institute found that in 2016, there were over 5,700 reports of murdered or missing Native women. Also, research by the National Institute of Justice found that four out of five Native women have experienced violence and more than half of them have been sexually assaulted. Their assailants tended to be someone of another race. The massive amount of violence against Native women coupled with the US Government’s seeming lack of concern, is a significant issue that needs to be addressed. When the same thing happens to white or wealthier women, it tends to get more coverage. Much of the public is left in the dark about what often happens to minorities and people of marginalized communities, especially Native Americans.
Spotted Eagle recounts an experience she had as a young woman. She was walking down the street with some friends when they became victims of a racist attack. The assailants shouted slurs and beat them. Spotted Eagle was left with a broken leg and bystanders did nothing to help them. The reality is that Native women are easy targets. Native American reservations are pretty isolated. They stand out-of-sight and out-of-mind for most people. A major challenge is that not enough people are educated about the problems these women face. They believe that they get great amounts of money from the casinos and government. However, this is not the case, as a lot of reservations don’t even have electricity. Also, the police on reservations are understaffed and don’t have enough resources. If a violator isn’t a part of their tribe, they have little power in investigating and prosecuting them. Perpetrators also seek places they are least likely to be caught. Another issue is that federal and state law enforcement don’t have a huge presence among the reservations. Tribal leaders say this is because of prejudice and longstanding racist issues
There is little corporate media coverage on this issue, other than headline grabbing announcements that President Trump thinks this should be investigated, with very little follow up reporting being done on the matter. CBS News and The New York Times covered the issue in June and December of 2019, but it received no ongoing in-depth reporting from the corporate press. The coverage that does exist seems to gloss over things, oft stating some statistics and views from whites and non-Native Americans with few to no personal accounts from Native people. Excluding their stories and their voices downplays this situation and contributes to it perpetuation.
Source: Danielle McLean, “Missing and Murdered Women Is a Grim, Unsolved Problem. Native Communities Are Demanding Action,” ThinkProgress, August 24, 2019, https://archive.thinkprogress.org/missing-and-murdered-women-is-a-grim-unsolved-problem-native-communities-are-demanding-action-cdde640e38b3/.
Student Researcher: Katrina Tend (Diablo Valley College)
Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)