With the signing of a proclamation declaring May 5th as Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day, President Trump has taken a step forward in our nation’s efforts to raise awareness and protect Native American and Alaskan Native communities.
Before we can make any real progress, we as a nation must first acknowledge there is a problem. We must collectively open our eyes to the reality that for far too long, women and children in these communities have faced levels of violence that should make the nightly news in every major media market in the US, and which would draw the ire of the nation.
Throughout this nation’s history, the dangers faced by the most vulnerable in these populations have been obscured by distance and isolation. Many have suffered, many have gone missing, and many have been murdered over the decades. Thanks to the courage and persistence of community members who have worked to raise awareness, we are finally beginning to see progress.
The Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives Awareness Day proclamation takes a strong and important step in acknowledging the problem as it states “…we reaffirm our commitment to ending the disturbing violence against these Americans and to honoring those whose lives have been shattered and lost.” And with this much needed progression in awareness comes great responsibility for action.
Each of us should now be engaged in the fight to protect those who for too long have not been protected. We have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of communities across the country, and we should all commit to strengthening the ability of tribes to end the violence, protect their citizens, and recover the missing.
Please heed this call and do your part; be it on the front lines of child protection, by volunteering in your community, or by learning and sharing more about the challenges facing our native communities. As you commit to learning and doing more, please engage with and share our AMBER Alert in Indian Country website.
Jim Walters | Program Administrator, AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program