Story by Rachel Warnke, Reporter
Photos courtesy of Rachel Warnke
On March 30, members of the Aquinas community including students, staff and faculty gathered to march in solidarity with missing and murdered indigenous women throughout the United States. These women are underrepresented and overlooked in the media, even though indigenous women are at a tenfold risk of experiencing domestic violence as well as murder in comparison to their white counterparts.
The march began at the St. Thomas Aquinas statue and was silently conducted in remembrance of those who have been missing and murdered. It ended at the Cook Carriage House’s Moose Cafe, where Dr. Linda Keway and Mallory Miller, the director of the Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Equity, spoke on the importance of protecting and achieving justice for violence against indigenous women.
They highlighted the impact of students’ voices and activism, especially through social media, and how this activism has helped bring awareness to indigenous women who have been abused and mistreated, especially in the wake of Gabby Petito’s disappearance, which was a wake-up call for many to the difference of treatment for missing white women and missing indigenous women.
Additionally, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was recently extended, and now non-tribal men who commit violent acts against indigenous women are under jurisdiction of the tribal courts. Before this extension came into effect, tribal courts did not have the power to prosecute non-tribal offenders. This victory is expected to prevent domestic violence against indigenous women in the future.
There is still a long way ahead of us in bringing about justice for missing and murdered indigenous women. However, indigenous representation in the government and activism through social media by students are making great strides to bring awareness, as well as prevention of injustices against indigenous women.