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Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement brought into light by other missing person’s case

In South Dakota alone, there are 50 women listed as missing, 34 of whom are Native American.
Updated: Sep. 21, 2021 at 6:27 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - After a cross-country road trip with her fiance, Gabby Petito, was reported missing. Since then, her face has covered the front page of newspapers and come across television screens but some people are asking why Gabby’s story garners so much attention when there are thousands of missing indigenous women.

A local advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women says even though other missing people are important, MMIW is being brought up to highlight centuries-long horrors as well.

“Because this has been happening to our women for hundreds of years,” said Lily Mendoza, founder of the Red Ribbon Skirt Society. “It started happening from the first contact, from colonization and it’s been happening for a really really long time and I don’t think people recognize that. They only see what’s happening now when in fact, it’s been an epidemic for hundreds of years and so we need to draw attention to that.”

Media played a large role in bringing Gabby’s disappearance into the national spotlight, Mendoza says it shines a light here as well.

“It has a huge impact because everybody is involved in social media,” continued Mendoza. “We have a Facebook page, which is Red Ribbon Skirt Society, and immediately when somebody is missing, we immediately pass that on to the public.”

Law enforcement receives tips and information on missing and murdered indigenous women, tips that help bring some women home safely.

“It has really been effective with our young girls that are maybe runaways because as soon as they’re missing, it’s put out on social media and so many of those young girls are found immediately before they do get into danger and before they are MMIW,” said Mendoza.

In South Dakota alone, there are 50 women listed as missing, 34 of whom are Native American.

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