ACF recognizes Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons in memorial ceremony

May 13, 2021
| JooYeun Chang, ACF Acting Assistant Secretary and Michelle Sauve, Acting Commissioner, ANA
Group photo of attendees at the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons in memorial ceremony on May 5th

Last week, President Biden issued a proclamation declaring May 5 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Awareness Day Visit disclaimer page . In commemoration, we were honored to stand with our Indigenous friends and relatives against violence in a public recognition of this issue.  This proclamation builds upon the work we’ve done to support the President’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities, as well as the Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Visit disclaimer page . As a nation, we must condemn violence in all of its forms.

At ACF, we’re committed to helping Indigenous communities protect their most vulnerable, including women, children and two-spirit individuals. But we also know that the crisis of MMIP doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender or identity.  On a memorial shawl ANA dedicated to honor those who have gone missing or been murdered we find names of people old and young, male and female, from a variety of backgrounds and homelands. Knowing that the crisis of MMIP is so far-reaching, our approach is to bolster protective factors that can benefit every member of a community, protecting them from violence and making them more resilient to its effects.

On MMIP Awareness Day Visit disclaimer page , we heard messages from Secretary Haaland, as well as many representatives from the Department of the Interior and Justice, speaking on behalf of Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of Health Xavier Becerra. We showed that we are all united by our shared commitment to the President’s Task Force on Missing and Murdered Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Dozens of ACF and HHS staff are actively engaged in work every day covering the gamut of prevention work - from improving the quality and quantity of MMIP-related data, informing law enforcement approaches in interacting with family members of MMIP victims, and coordinating assistance to Indigenous communities to ensure a responsive, community-centered approach when someone goes missing. We are joined in this work by communities from across Indian Country as well as federal, state, and local governments.

We’re also working hard to implement and improve ACF’s public health framework for Missing and Murdered Native Americans. In the days preceding our MMIP Awareness Day memorial, we convened a listening session with over a hundred Training and Technical Assistance Providers to hear what they thought the most important and pressing steps were to combat the crisis. We then finished the week with a listening sessions with grassroots organizations on MMIP, hosted by the Presidential Task Force, Operation Lady Justice, Visit disclaimer page where representatives of Indigenous communities and organizations shared personal stories, best practices, and calls to action for the federal government.

Our work on MMIP doesn’t begin and end with a week’s worth of events, and we know that raising awareness isn’t enough, but invisibility of this issue can no longer be tolerated. We’re grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the loved ones whom we’ve lost, but we can’t stop there. We intend to continue building our internal capacity and outreach so we can support those in communities that are engaged in prevention and healing. We also need to fund community-based solutions to violence, which is why we’ve decided to award bonus points to ANA grants that directly address MMIP. Future generations are counting on the work we start today. We hope you’ll join us in our effort to prevent violence, as we look forward to the seventh generation and beyond.   

 

To watch the MMIP Awareness Day memorial event, please watch on-demand on the HHS YouTube channel Visit disclaimer page .

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