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November 23, 2019

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Indigenous women are missing across the United States and Canada, and there is not enough being said or done.
“Barr Announces Plan To Address Crisis Of Missing And Murdered Native Americans” via NPR.

“Barr announced the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative after a meeting with tribal leaders and law enforcement officials at the Flathead Reservation in Montana, home of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. … ‘This is the stuff we've been advocating for,’ Amber Crotty, a lawmaker on the Navajo Nation, told the Associated Press. ‘It's just funding a slice of it.’”
Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! –Genesis 4:10

“The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
yet by no means clearing the guilty,
but visiting the iniquity of the parents
upon the children
and the children’s children,
to the third and the fourth generation.”
–Exodus 34:6-7
One of the most powerful experiences I ever had during a march in D.C. was watching sacred drumming and a prayer for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It was a protest within a protest, an open circle in the middle of Constitution Avenue, a powerful moment of mourning and witness. Native women and men gathered together bringing attention to a crisis that I knew nothing about. I can’t remember now which march it was or even who I was with, but I remember that feeling of being drawn to this group, carrying a depth of loss that I have yet to truly fathom. 

The Urban Indian Health Institute released a report last year which found that out of 5,712 cases of missing Indigenous women and girls last year, only 116 were logged in the Department of Justice database, and that data is from only 71 U.S. cities on non-tribal land. The release of this report sparked discussions about the problem last year, when NPR reported that, “Native women living on tribal lands are murdered at an extremely high rate — in some communities, more than 10 times the national average, according to research funded by the Department of Justice. And in part because of jurisdictional challenges, the disappearances can be hard to track and prosecute.” The Associated Press released a powerful in-depth investigation of the crisis as well. 

It's encouraging, then, to see that activists have gotten the attention of the Justice Department and that a plan is being put into action, even if it’s only a first step. After a week full of testimony about misconduct in this presidential administration, hearing this news was a bit of a balm, a reminder that even amidst chaos, good continues to work. By the same token, it’s a frustrating reminder that there’s important work to be done, work that gets harder with impeachment sucking up all the air in the room. 

And this is work that must be done. The blood of these lost lives cries out to us from the ground, the whole world bearing witness alongside Indigenous activists to a tragedy that white people don’t want to see. The sins of previous generations are being visited upon us again and again, the sins of European colonizers and presidential administrations, my ancestors. Unless we’re able to repent and to offer restitution, things will continue as they are. I believe in a God of justice and mercy, but until we do this work, until we give as much if not more care to each case of a missing Indigenous person as we do for a white person, the iniquities of our ancestors will continue to be visited upon us. 
The Urban Indian Health Institute and the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women are two great organizations doing work in this area. Learn about them and support them. Also, during this Thanksgiving season, spend some time familiarizing yourself with Indigenous history and contemporary Indigenous issues. Rebecca Nagle is doing daily informative updates throughout the month of November on her twitter feed. If you’re up for a book, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States is a must-read. At the very least, know whose land you’re living on.
Creating, Redeeming, Sustaining God, we give you thanks for those who are working to seek out the missing and achieve justice for the murdered all across this land, but especially in Native communities. Grant that this good work may grow and not decrease until that day when no one will be lost again. Give comfort and strength to the families of those who have been lost and give wisdom, courage, and endurance to those who are fighting so that no more Native lives will be lost in this way. Lead us in ways of repentance and restoration, for we pray this in the name of Jesus, the one who calls us to this task. Amen. 
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