The student news site of Hamline University.

The Oracle

The student news site of Hamline University.

The Oracle

The student news site of Hamline University.

The Oracle

Remembrance of those we love

Hundreds of people gathered in Minneapolis and marched in the annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women march this Valentine’s Day in remembrance of loved ones and solidarity with the families of the missing and murdered.
Aiyana Cleveland
Minneapolis community members gather in a circle to converse and hold space to remember those they love.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday about cherishing those we love, whether buying them gifts or simply being with them. For some families, the luxury of being with those loved ones is impossible. Every year on Feb.14, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Memorial Marches are held in Minneapolis, Duluth, Fargo-Moorhead, Mahnomen and Benji to remember and spread awareness about this issue.

According to the 2023 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Activities report, which quotes the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Clearinghouse Report, 8.7% of all people reported missing to the federal National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) were Indigenous, with 59.3% of all missing Indigenous people reported as female.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) is used interchangeably with MMIW, as this issue affects not only Indigenous women and young girls but also Indigenous men and boys, as well as Two-Spirit people.

“The march was started several years ago in solidarity with the indigenous communities in Canada, who held similar events. We started in solidarity with them and then continued to hold our event every year,” Executive Director of Minnesota’s Indian Sexual Assault Coalition Nicole Matthews said.

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During the program at East Phillips Community Center, Matthews, who is one of the many organizers of the march, started with a greeting and a brief list of all the speakers.. Some of the speakers included the other organizers, such as Director of the MMIR Office Juliet Ruddie, Senator Mary Kunesh and the families of those missing and murdered.
After the program ended around noon, the attendees took to the streets and marched along the streets that were blocked off from normal traffic. Some of the attendees were students who made signs in the lobby while waiting for the march to start. As the march went on, some attendees sang and others chanted “No More.”

“This is still an ongoing and present issue even impacting our state and Community,” attendee Caley Elliot said.

Many held signs, some of which had names of missing relatives with their pictures and names on them, others had some with a red dress and handprints on them and more.

“The march is all about community and public awareness and we have been able to reach thousands of people. We have also seen a growing number of media at these events, which helps us reach a broader audience,” Matthews said.

Within recent years this issue has been brought more into the spotlight. In 2019 the MMIW Task Force was started with the support of the Minnesota Legislature and later that year, they delivered a report to the legislature that included mandates aimed at reducing and ending violence against women, girls, and Two-Spirit people.. This report resulted in Governor Tim Walz signing into law the legislation to establish the first-in-the-nation MMIR Office in 2021.


Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Office – About

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