February 14th marks a day of honoring relatives lost in the ongoing epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives (MMIWR).
A recent report from the Minnesota Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women reveals a heartbreaking statistic: while Indigenous people make up just 1% of the state’s population, a stunning 9% of all murdered girls and women in Minnesota over the last ten years were American Indian.
Today we talk with Jessica Gidagaakoons Smith (Bois Forte Band of Chippewa) who is a mother, survivor, Two-Spirit warrior, Indigenous scholar, and researcher, MMIWG2S Legal Advocate, and so much more. Jessica shares how her own experience seeking healing as a survivor of domestic violence and human trafficking, led her on a path to become a national speaker, leader, and advocate for others.
We hear Jessica’s powerful story of how her “Inner Warrior” pushed her to step forward and speak up, sharing her own story of survival, to advocate for legislation aimed at strengthening law enforcement’s ability to track and solve cases of murdered or missing Native Americans.
We are thankful for Jessica Smith’s powerful voice and for all the work she is doing to help others find safety, healing, and their own voices. You can learn more about Jessica Smith and her work at www.gidagaakoonsresearch.com
Sovereign Bodies Institute (SBI) builds on Indigenous traditions of data gathering and knowledge transfer to create, disseminate, and put into action research on gender and sexual violence against Indigenous people. www.sovereign-bodies.org
If you or someone you know needs help right now, you can reach out to these hotlines:
StrongHearts Native Helpline provides culturally appropriate support and advocacy for American Indians and Alaska Natives, including resources for victims, families affected by domestic violence and dating violence, and it is anonymous and confidential at: 1-844-7NATIVE or 1-844-762-8483.
National Human Trafficking Hotline serves victims and survivors of human trafficking and anti-trafficking community in the US: 1-888-373-7888
Native Lights: Where Indigenous Voices Shine is produced by Minnesota Native News and Ampers, Diverse Radio for Minnesota’s Communities with support from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.