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Hundreds gather to march in Grand Rapids for missing and murdered Indigenous people

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Violence confronted by Indigenous people is just not merely a decades-long downside; it’s a 500-year downside that continues to pervade each Indigenous household, stated Melissa Pope, chief choose of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribal Court.

She spoke Friday throughout a Grand Rapids occasion to create consciousness for missing and murdered Indigenous people.

Native populations are susceptible to heightened victimization of violent crimes reminiscent of rape and homicide in contrast to nationwide averages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that murder charges amongst American Indian and Alaska Native people are practically 4 occasions greater than murder charges for white populations. About half of American Indian and Alaska Native people expertise intimate associate violence in their lifetime.

But the explanation people gathered in Grand Rapids is as a result of there may be hope for options, Pope stated, including that it’ll take work and communication with Native populations which have lengthy been neglected of conversations and sources.

Melissa Pope, Chief Judge of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribal Court on the March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

“It takes every person to be involved to be involved with that change. So I am standing here and saying we have this horrendous problem against Native people against Indigenous people. … And these right here are the people that can stop it,” Pope stated. “So go back to whatever it is you do, and become involved with the struggle. Talk to your friends; talk to their parents; talk to their grandmas; their aunties; their uncles; attend the rallies; participate in projects. Support in any way you can. … Every person here has the chance to be a part of the solution.” 

Indigenous voices want to be heard in rooms the place choices are made, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Chairman Jamie Stuck informed attendees. But non-Indigenous communities want to uplift the difficulty of violence towards indigenous people too. State and federal governments want to take these points significantly to be sure the “epidemic” is taken care of. 

And Stuck heralded “that Kwé [Woman] from Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who attended the event, as an ally in the fight against violence.

“No other governor has appointed Anishinaabe people to more committees or commissions than this Kwé from Michigan. And I also want to point out because of her leadership, it’s had an impact on bills and legislation,” Stuck stated.

This legislative session, Michigan turned the first state to name an official state native grain: manoomin. Whitmer additionally signed legislation into legislation that expands the state’s capacity to fund tribal domestic and sexual violence shelters and care providers.

Lawmakers have additionally heard testimony payments to defend Indigenous college students’ capacity to wear traditional indigenous attire to school and also at graduation.

One invoice that Stuck talked about, HB 5600, which hasn’t seen motion, would create an workplace of the tribal legislative liaison to join members of tribal communities to state lawmakers. 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer at a March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

During her tenure, Whitmer has called on state departments to seek the advice of with Indian tribes for perception and prioritize insurance policies that embrace the wants of the state’s tribal communities.

Stuck stated he and Whitmer have been having breakfast when the primary two circumstances of COVID-19 have been discovered in Michigan in 2020 and they mentioned the issues dealing with the state.

“Her and I have done so much growing as leaders together as we try to strengthen that government to government relationship, and to make sure that we have great representation and we have that good consultation going on,” Stuck stated. 

An individual wants solely have a look at the numbers to know violence towards Michigan’s Indigenous residents is a big downside, Whitmer informed attendees. But uplifting the tales of ache and inequality are key in pushing for options.

“These numbers show us the scale of the problem. We also know that it has been worsened by a complex maze of jurisdiction which impedes investigations, enforcement, deterrence and recovery,” Whitmer stated. “Tackling these systemic challenges will require every one of us to do our part. So much of this starts with events like this one, where we speak truth and bring light to an issue that is too often swept aside. As governor, I’ve been a staunch defender of women, children and families and today, I’m here because I see you. I understand the scale of the problem, and I will stand with you to solve it.”

Whitmer referred to as consideration to the extreme lack of native-centered home violence shelters nationwide, with only about 60 such shelters, despite the fact that there are 574 federally recognized tribes in the U.S.

Whitmer ended her time on the occasion by presenting a proclamation declaring May 5 as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Awareness Day in Michigan for 2024.

“We must continue having frank, honest conversations about difficult topics,” Whitmer stated. “We cannot build a brighter future without reckoning with our darker realities. Together we will increase access to justice and protect public safety.”

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Governor Gretchen Whitmer at a March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Governor Gretchen Whitmer at a March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Governor Gretchen Whitmer at a March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Governor Gretchen Whitmer at a March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten at a March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Chairman Jamie Stuck at a March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Governor Gretchen Whitmer (proper) embraces Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Chairman Jamie Stuck (left) at a March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Melissa Pope, Chief Judge of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribal Court on the March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten at a March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

Governor Gretchen Whitmer at a March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 3, 2024. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

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