Community News

Statement By Mothers of The Seneca Nation

In Support of National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Day

Submitted by Leslie Logan

(CATTARAUGUS TERRITORY, Irving, NY, May 5, 2022) — Today the Mothers of the Seneca Nation stand in solidarity, and express support, of the national day of awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. President Joe Biden signed a proclamation declaring May 5, 2022 as Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day.

On the Cattaraugus territory, Seneca community members, including the Mothers of the Nation, are gathering for a “Skirts for Unity Day” event, where women and girls will be wearing red. Red graphically signifies the blood of assaulted and murdered indigenous women.

In the late summer of 2021, the case of a missing young, attractive white woman, Gabby Petito captured the headlines almost daily for weeks. A detailed timeline of the case was posted by CNN, from the time Petito embarked on her fatal cross-country trip, to her disappearance, and then the subsequent discovery of her fiancee’s body and journal— in which he confessed to her murder.

The case generated widespread media attention and sparked criticism from Natives, and other minority communities, about the disparities in coverage of cases involving missing brown and black women. The wall-to-wall breaking news coverage of Petito displayed the comparative lack of value attributed to missing indigenous women and girls.

Figures from the Department of Justice reports on violence against Native women are jarring: American Indian and Alaska Native Women experience higher rates of domestic violence and sexual assault than any other population of women in the U.S. Further statistics indicate that Native women are stalked and murdered at higher rates than all other populations of women in the country. Four out of five Native women experience some form of violence in their lifetime; and Native women face murder rates more than 10 times the national average. Homicide is the third leading cause of death among Native women and girls ages 10-24.

Today the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) movement seeks to prevent girls from going missing with education efforts and to hold the justice system accountable.

The Mothers of the Nation contend that part of the problem has to do with the intentional erasure of indigenous peoples, their voices, stories and narratives.

The Mothers of the Nation are dedicated to actively defending the Nation’s sovereignty, protecting the Nation’s assets and resources— including, and especially, the life and livelihoods of Seneca women, the very life givers and perpetuators of the Seneca people and our future.