A portion of our funding goes towards holding events that raise awareness and helping families who have lost a loved one due to this public health crisis. Since 2020, we have helped organize and plan different prayer walks, marches, and intimate meals for #MMIR families. We also help families near and far with travel and lodging so that they can continue to come and share their loved one's story which is a part of healing justice for not only their loved ones but also themselves. Collectively, our families are able to share space to grieve and organize.
May 5th is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. We like to use "R" for relatives because of the personal connection we have with our sisters. It is also inclusive to our two-spirits, men, and children. This is not to be divisive, but to raise awareness that these relatives are also targeted as well. Over the past two years, we have reached to over 200 people (Native and non-Native allies) with our message in Sioux City, Iowa. Sioux City is located right in between two major cities (Sioux Falls, SD and Omaha, NE). Omaha, NE is also in the top ten cities with the highest numbers of MMIWG cases.
Zachary Bear Heels Prayer Walk
Zachary Bear Heels was a young Native man traveling back home to Oklahoma when he experienced a mental episode. After being kicked off of the Greyhound bus, Zachary was left stranded thousands of miles away from home on a hot summer day with no one or nowhere to turn to. Zachary was then stopped twice by the Omaha Police Department because of calls of strange behaviors that Zachary was exhibiting. The last group of police officers murdered Zachary by using excessive force and not having adequate training to assess and handle a situation in which an individual is experiencing a mental episode. Each year, we remind the Omaha Police Department of this wrongdoing and press for justice in the murder of Zachary Bear Heels. We help the Bear Heels family attend each year so that they can keep Zachary's story alive. To learn more about Zachary's story, please watch the video below. (TRIGGER WARNING: VIOLENCE, POLICE BRUTALITY)
Lenice Blackbird's Memorial
Lenice Blackbird was in her twenties when her body was found not that far away from the cabin where she was quarantining. In the summer of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was making it way to the tribal reservations. Unfortunately, Lenice was found deceased in a field right behind her cabin. Many questions are still left unanswered. The family still seeking justice. We helped the Blackbird family with Lenice's first memorial. To learn more about Lenice's story, please watch the video below. (TRIGGER WARNING: VIOLENCE AGAINST NATIVE WOMEN)
Protect the Sacred Youth Camp
Our Native youth are the most vulnerable when it comes ot the #MMIR epidemic. They are the ones who fall through the cracks the most due to oppressive systems such as foster care, group homes, and juvenile detention. We held the Protect the Sacred youth camp in hopes of promoting good health and well-being while building up self-confidence in knowing what it means to be Indigenous. The camp focused on identifying traditional medicine (plants), self-defense, sex-trafficking awareness taught by Set Me Free, beekeeping, art, and lacrosse. Those are just some of the activities. Chef Anthony Warrior provided traditional Indigenous meals for all in attendance. We easily reached 150 Native youth over the course of two days. We would like to thank all our partners and facilitators who had a hand in making this a successful youth camp.
Mutual Aid and PPE Distributions
Indigenous peoples from all over Turtle Island are no stranger to foreign diseases and epidemics. In modern times, we acted quickly and provided the Native communities living in the tri-state metro area of Sioux City with proper PPE and essentials for Native households. We held multiple PPE distributions so that every Native household and community member would have whatever they needed to get through such an unprecedented time.