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Symbols of Solidarity

The color red has deep resonance and symbolism in many of our communities. It is said that red is the color that the spirit world and our ancestors can see, a beacon that transcends beyond this world. Red for some is a color of love; for others, it is a link to pain. Red has become the color connected to the movement to draw attention to and create change for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Relatives (MMIW-R, also MMIW or MMIP). Artwork, beadwork, ribbon skirts, and photography using red permeates social media and within communities; a red handprint or clothing acting as powerful imagery that cannot truly capture the pain, angry, and impact on communities.


There is limited but growing data and information about MMIW. More and more attention is being given to the issue by local, state, Tribal, and federal programs to help solve cold cases and intercede in better and more timely ways than in the past. Yet, so many families and people still are in pain that comes with not knowing or not being heard. Media still often ignores or provides minimal attention to MMIW-R, both as a whole and when people go missing. 


In our work as the National Tribal Sexual Assault Resource Center, we work with communities, advocates, survivors, and so many others across the country. Almost every conversation turns to MMIW-R. It is an ever-present reality for us as individuals, professionals, and community members. 


MMIW-R intersects with so many other issues facing our communities including invisibility, lack of adequate housing, domestic violence, sex trafficking, sexual violence, poverty, anti-LGBTQ-2S+ bias, youth homelessness, and so many other things. 


But together change can happen. On the local level, education and awareness is essential to shifting and expanding the understanding of the issue. Organizations and systems need to rethink policies and practices around response and community engagement. Policy reform is essential; and we have positive strides including the creation of MMIW-R offices in a growing number of states and within various federal agencies. Collective action will help to both bring answers and healing to families as well as hopefully work to prevent people from going missing or being taken from us. 


While red is a symbol of solidarity, hope, a call to action, it is also that cry to our ancestors for support as well as a promise to do what we can for those who will come after us. 


We want to be in relationship with you to support your local efforts or connect you with other support!

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