SIOUX CITY -- Holding signs emblazoned with the words "No more stolen sisters" and "Missing but never forgotten," dozens marched in downtown Sioux City Thursday to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and relatives.
Four out of five Native women have experienced or will experience violence in their lifetime and, in some counties, they are murdered at more than 10 times the national average. Poverty, homelessness and substance abuse are some of the factors that contribute to this ongoing epidemic. Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) is a movement that seeks to bring awareness to the issue.
"I say MMIR (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives) because I feel that our men, women and two spirits are also included in that. As Indigenous women, we are targeted. We are targeted a lot," Trisha Etringer said as she stood on the steps of the Woodbury County Law Enforcement Center with the other marchers, some of whom were dressed in red or had red handprints painted across their faces. The movement is symbolized by a red handprint.
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Etringer, who serves as operations director for Great Plains Action Society -- a collective of Indigenous organizers working to resist and indigenize colonial institutions, ideologies and behaviors, told The Journal that her auntie Paulette "Paulie" Walker, Terri McCauley, Michelle "Mickey" LaMere, Kozee Decorah, Lenice Blackbird, Ashlea Aldrich, Zachary BearHeels, Rodney McCauley, Jesse Gilpin and Ashleigh Wabasha are among the victims of this violence.
A number of marchers who made their way from the Sioux City Police Department to the Woodbury County Law Enforcement Center to the Sioux City Public Museum wore T-shirts printed with McCauley's picture or held signs that read "Justice for Terri," to bring attention to the 38-year-old cold case.
McCauley, 18, a member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, was killed in Sioux City on Sept. 27, 1983. Her body was dumped in a wooded area in the vicinity of 33rd and Pavonia streets.
"To me this is a start. This is a new beginning to sit down and make a plan. Maybe the Siouxland area can be a model for the urban areas to follow to protect our loved ones," Terry Medina, a member of the Santee Sioux Tribe who worked as a probation officer for decades, said.
Sioux City Police Chief Rex Mueller told the marchers that local law enforcement officers are listening and that they can achieve positive outcomes by working together with the Indigenous community.
"We know the pain that many years of this has caused in the Indigenous community. But there is hope and there is hope here," he said. "... We want to bring justice to the families who have lost loved ones like Terri McCauley. We are here for you and we will move forward with you. We are not going anywhere."