Data Gathering An Answer to Missing & Murdered Indigenous Females

Anna Lucchesi

Published March 17, 2019

Issue will be discussed at CSVANW’s Tribal Leaders Summit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As New Mexico and other states push legislation to increase accountability from law enforcement and state and federal agencies when investigating cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, local New Mexico organizations also continue to work toward aiding these communities.
“The disproportionate rate that our women and girls go missing or are murdered in this country is atrocious. Information and community-based data collection is needed now more than ever for these cases,” says Deleana OtherBull, Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW) Executive Director.
The Coalition will have a nationally renowned speaker on the issue at its 6th Annual Tribal Leaders Summit March 20-21, 2018. Annita Lucchesi, executive director of Sovereign Bodies Institute, an organization dedicated to research on gender and sexual violence against Indigenous people, will speak about a comprehensive data resource she created from these cases. Her research was the basis of a recent report by the Urban Indian Health Institute, which revealed that law enforcement across the country were not adequately reporting or identifying cases of missing and murdered Indigenous females.
With better shared data and established investigative protocols among the agencies, families can get the answers they need regarding their sisters, mothers and daughters.
By gathering “community-based research that builds the capacity of tribal nations and Native communities we can better support victims and their families, account for ongoing violence, and work to prevent future violence,” Lucchesi said.
“It has always been a constant battle for our families and those most impacted to get answers regarding the cases of their loved ones,” OtherBull said. “Many of these cases fall through the cracks. Enough is enough. We need data that is community-driven as we continue to work towards addressing the systemic causes of violence against our women and girls.”
Since 2016, there have been 5,712 reports of missing American Indians and Alaska Native women and girls, according to the National Crime Information Center. Murder is the third-leading cause of death among these females and rates of violence on reservations can be up to 10 times higher than the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New Mexico has the highest number of missing and murder cases at 78, according to the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) report, with Albuquerque having the second highest number of cases, 37, among all 71 cities studied. Gallup, which is adjacent to the Navajo Nation, had the sixth highest cases in the UIHI report at 25 cases.
Some cases are tied to domestic violence, sexual violence, sex trafficking and other issues. Out of 506 cases, 6 percent showed that victims experienced sexual violence at the time of disappearance or death, according to the UIHI.
“Such violence against Indigenous women and girls has reached devasting levels in tribal communities but we have tools to support survivors,” said Alegra Roybal, CSVANW Sexual Violence Project, who will be presenting with Shannon Hoshnic, a Rural Grant Coordinator, Prevention Educator, and Victim Advocate with Sexual Assault Services of Northwest New Mexico, at the summit.
The Coalition will discuss these issues and initiatives and give recommendations to tribes during the 6th Annual Tribal Leaders Summit at the Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel. The Coalition will also provide a status report on sexual and domestic violence in tribal communities. In addition, a representative from the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico will present a Transgender 101 and discuss rates of intimate partner violence.
For more information on the 6th Tribal Leaders Summit, CLICK HERE.

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