Native women march in Reno for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women | FirstNationsFocus.com

Native women march in Reno for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

By Beverly Harry and Bob Fulkerson | Special to First Nation's Focus

RENO, Nev. — The second annual Reno Women's March on Saturday, Jan. 20, led by Great Basin Indigenous women, embraced the honor to march, stimulating awareness of the long-suffering oppression of native people.

The opportunity to march, sing and dance to the beat of hand drums created a place for native women to raise their voice on growing key issues. It brought a cultural presence to the Truckee Meadows and epitomized the important role of practicing tradition and culture on Indigenous lands.

Through territorial displacement and cultural disruption, Tribes who have a shared ancestral link to this area were able to return and reconnect to their extensive ancestral homelands.

For instance, native people from Pyramid Lake had always been historically connected to the Truckee River. Both the Cui-ui and the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, which are endangered and threatened fish species of the Great Basin, naturally made their way up river to spawn throughout the Sierra Nevada tributaries.

“Women humbly carry the torch and march for the mothers, sisters and daughters who have been stolen from us.”

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It was trading and cultural harvesting that brought many tribal circles to this valley. The Washoe people also use this valley to promote their survival and tradition.

Indigenous Peoples are born grafted to Mother Earth, and this acknowledgement is found embedded in their songs and prayers. Key issues such as the Keystone XL Pipeline, Dakota Access Pipeline, Gold Butte, Bears Ears, Idle No More, commercial pinenut harvesting, ANWR, mining injustices and natural and cultural resource exploitation add fuel to their burning fire.

An issue dear to native marching women is the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women throughout the West, primarily in Canada. The public needs to continue asking questions and remain vigilant in offering support for this cause.

It appears the lack of rigorous investigation by federal/state police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police presents a stigma for Indigenous Peoples related to racism, discrimination and stereotypes.

It is apparent that inadequate law enforcement and injustices reignite a focus on intersectionality with regard to racism and sexism. Native women have long felt policies, regulations, tribal codes and levels of mixed jurisdictions have presented a lack of representation for women's rights and a disregard to human rights. Finally, because of this extreme negligence, women continue to be marginalized and oppressed.

Women humbly carry the torch and marched for the mothers, sisters and daughters who have been stolen from us.

Great Basin Indigenous women led the way at the Jan. 20 Women's March in downtown Reno, and red ribbon skirts were worn symbolizing this issue — because the color red is sacred for native cultures.

Being able to pledge their dedication to all these issues helps the families and children find exposure and awareness to an ill-fated system and a just cause.

The issue of violence against women is not new and has been well-seeded in colonialism. Indigenous Peoples bring stories about how women were stolen long ago from their homes, villages, and territories.

The voice that marching women continue to chant is, "No more stolen sisters!" Indigenous women continue to fight as new empowerment strengthens their native voice.

This opportunity to represent all women as sacred beings is defined by their life bearing abilities. They carry signs that state their traditions have been impacted by state and federal decisions on natural/cultural resources and mining.

They continue to plead with policy makers to transform power from corporations to people and Mother Earth. The Indigenous teaching reminds us that protections need to be created for Mother Earth and all life.

This article was written by Bob Fulkerson, Executive Director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) and Reno-area director of the PLAN Action Fund; and Beverly Harry, who works as a Native Community Organizer with the organizations. Visit http://www.planevada.org or http://www.planaction.org to learn more.