Lost on the Wind

Native American Woman, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA, Accession No. 2003.003.040  (PD)

There is a haunting exhibit outside the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC [1].  Red dresses flutter in the wind.  They represent the thousands of indigenous women killed or missing in this country.

The topic of abuse among Native Americans does not generate much publicity.  The House of Representatives, Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples, recently held a hearing on the subject.  Grandly titled “Unmasking the Hidden Crisis of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women:  Exploring Solutions to End the Cycle of Violence”, the hearing received little press.

What we know is that the murder rate for American Indian and Native Alaskan women on tribal lands is 10 times the national average.  Over 5700 were reported murdered or missing in 2016 alone.

Of that number a mere fraction – 116 to be precise – made it to a Dept. of Justice database.  In point of fact, there is no national database that reliably tracks these women.

Poverty is deeply rooted on the reservation.  Existence there is spare in the best of times.  That may be a factor contributing to the violence.

Other problems include jurisdictional confusion as among federal, state, and tribal agencies; the all too frequent dismissal by law enforcement of reports of missing women struggling with addiction or other issues; and a focus by sex traffickers on Native American women as “exotic”.

These were all real women.  Each and every one of them had a name; had a mother.  Each had hopes and dreams.  But their voices are lost on the wind now.

[1]  Washington Post, “Red dresses flutter, empty, on the National Mall and this is why they should haunt us” by  Theresa Vargas, 3/16/19,  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/red-dresses-flutter-empty-on-the-national-mall-and-this-is-why-they-should-haunt-us/2019/03/15/715d6f14-4753-11e9-aaf8-4512a6fe3439_story.html?utm_term=.bccceb52d7bd.




Filed under domestic abuse, domestic violence, Poverty, racism, sex trafficking, Slavery, Violence Against Women

23 responses to “Lost on the Wind

  1. Good informative post, Anna, there is too much abuse in this world, cleaning it up will be a huge task yet innocents disappearing go unnoticed. Why are they just disappearing without a trace? Is it because they are beautiful souls with much to bring to the Earth?

  2. Pingback: Lost on the Wind — ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse – Puzzles of the Soul

  3. Very powerful post Anna. Where I now live I see the very same attitudes you described attributed to a specific people group. Here, they are known by many different names: migrants, immigrants, illegals, Mexicans, Hondurans, and Guatemalans. At best they are looked upon as 2nd class, while in reality they are considered even less than that.

    The women, especially, endure much hardship, trying to eke out an existence for their families by enduring long hours in the blazing sun, then coming home to the role of mother and wife.

    Regardless of their status or nationality they all share one thing in common however, and that is they have no one to speak out for them or come to their defense. You can see the look of hopelessness in their eyes. That is when they will even look you in the eye. It breaks my heart to see them treated as they are, and on more than one occasion I have heard them spoken to as though they had no feelings.

    It is a tragedy that we have people in this blessed nation that are not considered equal. As you say, this is someone’s mother or daughter. When will we ever lose the arrogance and superiority that eats away at us from within?

    • You poignantly describe the inequality in this nation and this world, Ron. It is, I think up, to those of us who recognize the problem to speak out for these women. The Bible instructs us, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice” (Prov. 31: 8-9 NLT).

      • I must admit that I have been fairly sheltered from the inequalities all around us. Case in point, a few weeks ago I was in a store and was startled by a woman loudly accusing an Hispanic woman of taking something from the shelf that she had her eyes on. She told this poor lady that she knew exactly what she was doing and was just waiting for the opportunity to snatch it away from her. When the Hispanic lady tried to explain that she only took it from the shelf after the other lady had passed on it, the 1st lady spoke to her in a dreadful manner. I was completely shocked by this, and it nearly broke my heart that someone could get so upset over a THING as to treat another person so disrespectfully. What’s even worse is that I didn’t say a word in her defense. I felt much shame for my lack of action.

      • I have been in that same situation, Ron. I think a normal person is at first so shocked that it is difficult to form a response. Only afterwards do we come up w/ things we might have said. Still, I do think it is important to take a stand, when confronted w/ this type of inequity. You will be better prepared the next time. Sad to say, there is likely to be another instance.

  4. Great post Anna. I never knew this was happening.
    In Canada they bury dark secrets of the missing Native American children.. There seems to be a lot of effort and social media time going into the race wars.. they need to spread their efforts into every race that suffers inequality because there are many it seems.
    Thank you for sharing.

  5. This is an Eye Opener, my Dear Anna. 5700 in 2016 alone? Staggering. …I Always like to the Root ‘Solutions.’ The area is ‘Supposed’ to be Christian. What is Christian Leadership doing?

  6. In Canada, the statistics are much the same. However, the RCMP found that of the solved cases, most indigenous women were murdered by indigenous men.

  7. I’ve been asking questions about the numbers of indigenous women disappearing in the US and Canada. My first thought was that it was a continuation of the original genocide, only this time by stealth. In any case, the fact that the disappearances don’t appear to be given the same law enforcement rigour as other crimes, is a commentary on the fact that the settler colonialist culture is alive and well in North America.

    There is a ‘war’ on indigenous peoples around the world. If you can call genocide ‘war’. It’s been going on for centuries. West Papua has seen 500 000 slaughtered by Indonesia in the last 50 years. The Tibetan people suffering the same fate under Chinese invasion. Australian Aboriginals, The Rohingya and Rakhine in Myanmar, The Palestinian people are suffering unspeakable crimes against humanity every day under illegal Israeli occupation of their land, and South America continues to see its indigenous populations wiped out even many centuries after the Spanish started the process. We need to bring these facts to light and share them to help put an end to the mass murder involved.


  8. Pingback: Lost on the Wind – NarrowPathMinistries

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