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  • Pauline Hoffmann

Independence Days

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

Do they take on new meanings with recent news?

I know that this blog is supposed to accompany the weekly podcast, however, this week I struggled. I just returned from a wonderful conference in Cincinnati that helped to empower women. One of the presentations included a panel discussion from a group of women from Montana. Half of the panel is indigenous; the other half not. It was a wonderful - and disturbing - conversation around MMIP (Missing and Murdered Indigenous People).

[As an aside, this week's podcast is available. We talked to Dr. Hossein Sarrafzadeh about cybersecurity and ransomware. It is a two part podcast; the second will air next Thursday. Next Tuesday I will post about the podcast of this week and next.]

I have also been paying close attention to the news coming out of Canada regarding the mass graves that have been found in association with the forced Indian boarding schools.

Today is Canada Day. It comes on the heels of Indigenous Persons Month in Canada. There have been calls from the First Nations People of Canada to abandon the usual Canada Day celebrations in light of recent events. My mother is Canadian so I often send a shout out to my Canadian relatives, of which I have many. This year is different.

Our Independence Day in the United States is Sunday, July 4. My husband and I often don't do anything but perhaps grill and drink. Maybe we'll work in the garden. We don't go to any parades or watch fireworks. I am thankful - always - for the independence and freedoms we have. I am also reminded that we don't all share those freedoms in this country - or in Canada.

This is a podcast and blog about data so let's share some startling numbers.....(The following information is taken from the 2018 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Report which may be viewed here.)

  • The National Crime Information Center reports that, in 2016, there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, though the US Department of Justice’s federal missing persons database only logged 116 cases.

  • Murder is the third-leading cause of death among American Indian/Alaska Native women.

  • 71% of American Indians/ Alaska Natives live in urban areas.

  • UIHI (Urban Indian Health Institute) identified 506 unique cases of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls across the 71 selected cities—128 (25%) were missing persons cases, 280 (56%) were murder cases, and 98 (19%) had an unknown status.

  • Sixty-six out of 506 MMIWG cases that UIHI identified were tied to domestic and sexual violence.

  • The youngest victim was a baby less than one year old. The oldest victim was an elder who was 83 years old.

  • The states with the highest number of cases are as follows: New Mexico (78), Washington (71), Arizona (54), Alaska (52), Montana (41), California (40), Nebraska (33), Utah (24), Minnesota (20), and Oklahoma (18).

I urge you to take a look at the report. I will also put together a podcast about this topic in the future. Look for it.

One of the obstacles faced in reporting these crimes is reporting these crimes! As you can see the Department of Justice has just 116 cases on record even though there are 5,712 reports of missing persons. The actual number of missing persons is likely much higher due to underreporting. There are so many reasons for that including fear of law enforcement.

As you celebrate however you celebrate your independence day, take a moment to think about those among us who do not feel free. Think about how you might change that. And look for more information in an upcoming podcast and on this blog.

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