Updated: January 08, 2019 03:49 PM
Several Native American organizations advocating for justice of missing and murdered indigenous women and relatives are working on starting a search and prevention group for victims of violence and trafficking.
Native Lives Matter hosted a fundraising event Saturday at the Central Hillside Community Center. The funds collected from the event will go towards search trainings and community patrol.
"The event is a feast fundraiser and a silent auction fundraiser to help support two upcoming trainings that we're doing with multiple affinity groups in the area," Rene Ann Goodrich, a Native Lives Matter member, said.
The event was also a solidarity gathering to connect Native Americans affected by violence and trafficking. The gathering offered support and brought awareness to the start of the search group.
The group is hoping to get as many people involved on the mission to reduce the number of missing and murdered indigenous women and relatives.
"We can start doing actual patrols and making presence and letting people know that we are no longer going to stand for our relatives going missing,” Taysha Martineau, a Fond du Lac reservation member, said.
“We are also looking to provide harm reduction kits for those withdrawing from opioids and heroine as that has a direct correlation with women who are forced into sex trafficking,” Martineau said.
"They need to be searched for and should be found and given that respect,” Marco Hont, an organizer of the search group, said.
The name of the search group is Gitchigami/Gitchigumi Scouts. Gitchigami is the Ojibwe word for Lake Superior, representing the need for searches of missing and murdered victims in the local community.
The Gitchigami Scouts group was started by a collective of Anonymous Twin Ports Members(ATP), Anti Colonial Land Defense(ALD), with the support of Native Lives Matter(NLM). Many of the members are indigenous, from Lakota, Arapaho, and Souix.
The group is a collective compromised of affinity groups who have been working together in opposition of Enbridge Line 3. The group is now working on taking action regarding missing and murdered indigenous women and relatives(MMIWR).
The group models itself after the Sahnish Scouts of North Dakota. The Gitchigami Scouts are hoping that the trainings will equip them with the skill set and tools to effectively search and recover the missing and bring awareness, as well as call for justice for the murdered.
They are also forming the group with the mindset of Mothers Against Meth Alliance(MAMA) to offer continued support to families and communities of those directly affected by drugs.
"Not only is the family affected but the community as a whole. The thing about indigenous communities is that we're all really one big family," Martineau said.
The pain and anguish families go through has been displayed and expressed throughout the region with visual stories and gatherings.
"Because we are such a small percentage in the state of Minnesota, even just a few losses are devastating in the community,” Goodrich said.
The affinity groups came together to remind each other that the missing and murdered indigenous women and relatives have not been forgotten and that action is going to be taken to find them.
“The trainings are a bit extensive. There’s an element in the training for first response, narcan, first response to police, and securing a crime scene. Also working to develop a protocol with law enforcement and breaking barriers in the legislative level with family members seeking justice for their missing loved ones,” Goodrich said.
The training sessions will be taking place Jan. 13 and Feb. 13.
Several other events in honor of Human Trafficking Month will be taking place.
The fourth annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women's Memorial March will be taking place Feb. 14 starting at 1:00 p.m. at AICHO.
If you're interested in helping or joining the Gitchigami Scouts, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 218-461-1054. You can also go on the Facebook page: Gitchigumi Scouts
Updated: January 08, 2019 03:49 PM
Created: January 05, 2019 06:26 PM
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