A study by the Urban Indian Health Institute released in November said 37 indigenous women and girls were reported missing or murdered in Albuquerque since 1996, making the city second only to Seattle in the 71 cities surveyed. “That was disturbing and eye-opening for us,” said Autumn Rose Billie (Acoma Pueblo/Taos Pueblo/Diné), one of the organizers of a Friday, Aug. 16 event to highlight issues of missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW).
“Sexual violence against Native women is a lot higher than with non-Native women,” she said. “It’s all in connection to colonization and what can happen as a result of when we were taken away from our families in the boarding-school era, and women and children being vulnerable to sexual assault. What can we do to heal our communities and acknowledge the issue and bring families together to help one another, just making sure we’re safe, especially our two-spirit and trans relatives?
“Even though it’s a heavy topic, we want to keep it more upbeat with music and the workshop, positive reinforcement, and healing.”
The Friday event is scheduled for noon to 7 p.m. at the Santa Fe Indian Center, 1420 Cerrillos Road. It is sponsored by the Three Sisters Collective, which was founded in Santa Fe two years ago by Billie, Christina M. Castro ( Jemez Pueblo/Taos Pueblo/Chicana), and Autumn Gomez (Comanche/Taos Pueblo). The event is in collaboration with the Santa Fe Indian Center and Clara Natonabah Music.
The free, family-friendly event includes a panel discussion with Cheyenne Antonio (Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women) and Terrie Gomez (Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute) at 1 p.m. and an MMIW community mapping and artmaking workshop at 2 p.m. There will also be art vendors, pop-up screen-printing, food, and live music. A focus of the entertainment program is the release of Spirit Line: Woven Together For Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives. Singer/songwriter Clara Natonabah (Diné/Dutch) was creative director on this album, which features songs by her, Castro, and other indigenous women.
All proceeds from the sale of the CD will be donated to the Sovereign Bodies Institute, which focuses on “generating new knowledge and understandings of how Indigenous nations and communities are impacted by gender and sexual violence.”