LAME DEER, Mont. — The seriousness of missing and murdered Indigenous persons in the country was recognized through a White House proclamation issued by President Joe Biden, who on Tuesday declared Wednesday, May 5, “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day."
Unfortunately, the powers that be at Instagram, owned by Facebook, did not understand the gravity of the issue that the White House acknowledged. As Native Americans were attempting to bring awareness to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons epidemic by making posts to Instagram, many of the posts were removed on Wednesday, May 5.
On Thursday, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), based in Lame Deer, Mont. issued a press release that said the organization was disappointed to hear from advocates and community members that their recent Instagram Stories concerning missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and relatives had been removed or taken down overnight, including many of which were shared in support of the National Week of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls #MMIWGActionNow campaign.
Some of the removed content even included Instagram Stories that NIWRC shared on Wednesday, including past Stories we had pinned to their feed from their supporters.
IllumiNative, a nonprofit initiative designed to increase the visibility of – and challenge the negative narrative about – Native Nations and peoples in American society, issued a statement Thursday evening that said, "erasure of Native peoples and issues is violence and is rooted in white supremacy. Instagram must be held accountable."
In reaction, NIWRC crowd-sourced for details and screenshots of the removed content, which so far, the organization received about 92 reports of deleted content, as of Thursday, 4:00 p.m. - MDT.
On Thursday, NIWRC officials contacted Facebook to voice complaints about the removed stories.
The company responded by saying they would investigate the removals. Later Thursday, Facebook responded and shared they were experiencing a global technical issue regarding uploading and viewing Instagram Stories that engineers were working to fix.
“We appreciate Facebook’s responsiveness to our concerns on behalf of the thousands of Indigenous advocates, community members and organizations who have worked tirelessly to shed light and spur action for missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and relatives on and around May 5th,” said Lucy Simpson (Diné), NIWRC executive director.
“As a Native-led anti-violence organization, we believe the erasure of Indigenous voices is violence and are deeply committed to holding corporations accountable for the censorship and erasure of Native voices, especially on such a personal issue that affects us all.”
More Stories Like ThisPresident Biden Signs New Gun Law Aimed to Keep Guns Away from Dangerous People
Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade, Indian Country Responds
President Biden Nominates Patrice Kunesh for Commissioner of the Administration for Native Americans
Ultra Meaningful: Running the Western States Endurance Run
Supreme Court Rules Miranda Rights to be Limited; Impact on Indian Country
Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news?
For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.
Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10. Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.