Why the interest in Indigenous women specifically?
Well firstly, I am a Native woman myself. I have also dedicated my adult life and career to managing the crises of Native families whether they be in the Child Protection system, escaping abusive homes, or victim/survivors of sexual assault and/or trafficking.
What I've learned over the last 10 years is:
-Native Americans are jailed at a rate of 38 percent higher than the national average.
- Native American women specifically are statistically over-represented in studies regarding violence and especially sexual violence. A 2006 study found that 96 percent of Native American respondents reported being raped.
- The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 70 percent of violent crimes perpetrated again Native women are perpetrated by non-native defendants.
- 17 percent of Native women have been stalked in their lifetime.
I suggest reading the report linked above as it has a lot of other sources and staggering statistics regarding violence against Native women.
There are many reasons for this but one umbrella reason that encompasses them all:
Native women are vulnerable.
There are many things that contribute to our vulnerability. Any population that is largely poor and underrepresented is at risk for violence. Poor communities (ghettos, reservations, trailer parks) tend to find unhealthy ways to deal with their circumstances such as crime, violence, gang involvement, drugs, and alcohol. Crime rates on the reservation are 2.5% higher than the national average and result less often in charges. 1/4 of all Native Americans are living in poverty.
Historical traumas such as Indian Boarding Schools have created a legacy of violence that ripples through our communities today. Many children were "raised" in these boarding schools that then then sent out into the world to raise their own children. If your only example of a parental figure beat, shamed, and sexually abused you, you would likely have trouble functioning as a person let alone as a parent.
Because of these and other damaging US policies, Native Americans are largely suspicious of and uncooperative with government systems. I've seen it in my own work. Many young people in foster care will runaway and be harbored in nearby reservations (usually resulting in exploitation by whoever is harboring them). "Snitching" to authorities carries with it a damaging community stigma and often an unofficial death sentence. If you live someplace where it is common practice for crime to not be reported let alone investigated, you are extremely vulnerable to violence.
Because of violence and poverty, Native children are exponentially more likely to be in the Child Welfare system and placed into foster care. In my home state of Minnesota, which has the highest rate of Native children in out of home placement, American Indian children are 13 times more likely to be placed into foster care than non-Indian children. Children in foster care are very vulnerable to scenarios like sex trafficking, abuse by caregivers, and runaway situations.
This is pretty staggering considering that in the 2010 Census only 2.9 million of the 318.9 million people in America identified themselves as Native American.
And these are just a few of the many reasons Native women are vulnerable.
So it's these statistics combined with my personal experience that have led me to profile the cases of missing, exploited, and murdered Native women. In my personal experience, violence against Native women is largely ignored by the media and America at large. It's accepted that what happened to our people is tragic, but is mostly understood as a historical and not contemporary issue. Most people do not investigate how governmental policies and historical trauma currently affect our communities in the form of violence.
My goal in creating this blog is to create visibility for cases that are largely forgotten and under reported. If this blog leads to just one case closure, tip, or missing person being found I will consider it a success. I am personally more about results than awareness, though I find value in both.
Why do you include tribal information in JFNW profiles?
I think this might be confusing at first glance to some people, especially those from outside of the Native American community or, as we call it, "Indian Country."
There are a couple of reasons I list tribal information in profiles:
1. It's an acknowledgement of that person's community and family.
In many tribes when you ask someone where they're from, they won't respond "Oh, Kansas City", they will respond with their tribal or reservation information even if they've never lived or even been there. People in Indian Country are asking where your roots are and who your relatives might be. That information is culturally important to us and is part of how we relate.
2. Many times people on the reservation have information regarding a case but keep it secret.
Native Americans have been given an endless number of reasons to distrust the government and its systems. Thus, many Native communities keep secret sometimes vital information related to missing person or murder cases in order to protect "their own." "Snitching" is very looked down upon in Native communities and can often lead to further violence. My intention in listing tribal information is to pressure people of those communities that could have further information to come forward and stop protecting those who perpetrate violence against us, even if it's ourselves.
What if one of my friends or family members is profiled on the blog and I want it removed?
Everything that I post on this blog is public information gathered from public electronic sources. When possible I will let family members know if their relative has been profiled and give them the option to provide additional information. While I understand as best I can that having a friend or family member profiled my be an emotional thing, my interest is in solving cases and finding answers. However, if someone requests that a profile be taken down I more than likely will do so.
What if I have information that I think should be a part of their profile?
I'm always open to receiving more information. In the past I've reached out publicly on Facebook and have had family members of a missing person fill in the blanks for me which I think is wonderful. Since any sources that contact me here can't really be verified if I do include information I will probably say on the blog that it was from an unconfirmed source. If I don't think it's relevant, I reserve the right not to include it at all.
What if I have new or important information regarding a profiled case?
Please do no share it with me, share it with Law Enforcement or the investigating agency. I've tried to include contact information for those agencies with every profile. Speaking as a former child protection investigator, 3rd hand information is rarely useful and when I tell them someone from the internet told me it's even less likely to be investigated. I don't work for any agency that can help with investigations.
Do you investigate the cases profiled on JNFW?
Generally speaking, no. I try to gather as much information as possible from public electronic sources (News media, Facebook, blogs, etc) and consolidate it into one comprehensive profile. In the past I have reached out to law enforcement or NamUs if I thought I had useful information, but I don't have time, training, or resources to investigate each individual case.
What if I want to make contact with you?
I read any and all comments made to the profiles on my blogs. If you'd like to correspond privately or if you are from the media you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Awenen Giin (Who are you)?
My name is Makoons Miller-Tanner. I have worked my entire adult life in the Native American communities of Minnesota. I have a bachelor's degree in Ojibwe Language and Culture Education and a second bachelor's in English Literature. I am a former advocate for American Indian victim/survivors of Domestic Abuse, a former High School teacher, spent 4 years as a tribal social worker, 2 years as a foster parent, and am currently an advocate for victim/survivors of sexual assault. I was inspired to make this blog by my great grandmother, Lillian Antone, who died in her 30s. Her death was ruled the result of epilepsy as she hit her head on a rock during a seizure. My grandmother had never before had a seizure, was not diagnosed an epileptic, and hit her head on that rock over 40 times.
A blog about the many missing, murdered, and unidentified Indigenous women of North America.
Justice For Native Women
Justice. Answers. Bringing our sisters home.
Justice for Native Women began in December of 2015 in an effort to raise awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women across North America with an emphasis on the United States. While grassroots and political efforts to draw attention to murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada is still emerging, the crisis is the same in the United States and efforts are in their infancy. As the blog has grown, the effort has been to not only bring awareness but make way for change. JFNW is in the beginning stages of effecting legislation with Minnesota representatives and hopes to effect national legislation in the future.
If you are interested in or supporting of the cause, please share this website with your friends and followers. If you have knowledge to share regarding creating further grassroots efforts your wisdom is appreciated. If you have any case information regarding the missing, murdered, or unidentified women profiled on the blog please reach out to the authorities. Contact information for investigators is listed in every profile.