Orange Shirt Day – Missing/Murdered Indigenous Women | Photo by Brett Hull | The Wright State Guardian
Violence against indigenous women is underrepresented in the media compared to cases involving white victims. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) movement seeks to raise awareness for the thousands of indigenous lives being affected by violence.
According to the Native Women’s Wilderness website, Indigenous women are murdered ten times more often than women of all other ethnicities. In addition, murder is the third leading cause of death for indigenous women.
Furthermore, researchers from the University of Wyoming discovered that only eighteen percent of indigenous women that are reported missing received any media coverage.
This lack of coverage is a direct contradiction to the media frenzy resulting from the disappearance and murder of white influencer Gabrielle Petito. Petito’s case went viral and countless videos, posts and articles were curated to discuss her situation and theorize what happened to her.
Petito’s case is an example of the sociological phenomenon called “Missing White Woman Syndrome” that results from the disproportionate media coverage of white women compared to women of color and men.
Wright State University (WSU)’s indigenous student organizations strive to raise awareness of this inequality and are calling attention to the systematic violence against women in their community.
WSU’s indigenous communities weigh in
The Asian and Native American Center (ANA) at Wright State University (WSU) consists of several student organizations that promote diversity and inclusion on campus. ANA President Ryan Diaz hopes that students will become more engaged in ANA events so that they become knowledgeable allies for the indigenous community.
“It’s incredibly important that we participate in more discussions because it spreads awareness about what happened to our cultures. They are genuinely forever changed,” Diaz said.
Additionally, the Association of Native American Students (ANAS) at WSU is a part of ANA and focused on raising awareness of issues pertaining to the indigenous community.
ANAS President Cameron Hendrix believes that the key to addressing this issue is for people to engage in conversations pertaining to MMIW and for Americans to stop avoiding the uncomfortable truth of the effects of colonization.
“Students need to be aware that this is happening. There is a lack of coverage in mainstream media because it deals with the long history of colonialism and racism that most American people don’t want to deal with. MMIW exists because American people continue to push this issue under the rug,” Hendrix said.
ANAS Treasurer Ben Osborn has been directly impacted by the violence occurring against indigenous women and constantly fears for the safety of their family members living on reservations.
“I did have one of my cousins go missing for about six months and then she showed up in the middle of the tundra. She went through therapy so she’s doing better now, but to have gone through all of that trauma and just have it looked over is very demeaning,” Osborn said.
WSU students are encouraged to attend ANA and ANAS meetings in order to become more knowledgeable on this topic and to support the indigenous communities on campus.