Grantmakers in the Arts’ Statement of Support for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women

By the Grantmakers in the Arts team and board of directors

With contributions by Tina Kuckkahn (Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa), NDN Collective Director of Grantmaking, GIA board member; Gabrielle Strong (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate) NDN Foundation Managing Director, GIA board member; and Quita Sullivan (Montaukett/Shinnecock), Senior Program Director, Theater, New England Foundation of the Arts; GIA board member.

As members of the board of directors of Grantmakers in the Arts we are sharing, on behalf of the organization, this statement of solidarity in support of the movement around Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women. The amount of media attention granted to missing White women should serve as a reminder of the great disparity in how different women’s lives are valued in our nation.

Indigenous women have always experienced the highest rate of violence, mostly from white males. Today the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and girls (MMIW) has led to a movement to find them, to seek justice for them, and to hold the systems accountable for failing them. We need to continue to stand with and protect Indigenous women from targeted violence, challenge the racist disregard in the systems that are supposed to support them, and amplify their movements as we do so.

Today's MMIW movement uplifts both a current and historical narrative that began in 1492, as experienced by Taíno and other Indigenous women upon first contact with colonial settlers. Violence against Indigenous women is often tied directly to land theft and resource extraction, as depicted in the novel and upcoming film Killers of the Flower Moon, where white men married Osage women and murdered them in order to obtain their rights to oil fields upon Osage lands. More recently, there is a direct correlation between the extreme rise in MMIW in states like North Dakota with the establishment of “man camps,” built to further extract resources from Mother Earth.

Part of the intentional erasure of Indigenous peoples, both past and present, is that their struggles have been an absent narrative, or have been massaged into romanticized and exoticized notions of who they are, if included at all. Please join Grantmakers in the Arts in listening to some of the first-person voices of our Indigenous colleagues as they explain why it is essential to honor the cultural expressions and humanity of our Indigenous sisters: