In advance of the final official meeting of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Task Force of Minnesota, co-chairs, Nicole Matthews and Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton) reviewed the work by the task force and its report, completed December 2020. The report was presented to the Legislature in January 2021.
The chairs also highlighted the urgent necessity for a legislatively created MMIR (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives) office to ensure that Minnesota continues this historic work. In response to the report findings, Senator Kunesh authored a bill for the creation of the Office of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (SF 1989) this 2021 legislative session. This legislation did not have a hearing in Senate.
“Four years ago, we began our efforts to bring awareness to the historic violence against our American Indian women and communities,” said Sen. Kunesh. “With full bi-partisan support of both legislative bodies, we were able to complete our study and publish a report that has national and international recognition despite a global pandemic and a very short amount of time.”
“Homicide continues to be the third-leading cause of death amongst Native American women. Based on our findings and recommendations, I urge the Legislature to form a MMIR office here in Minnesota – to renew their commitment to addressing the systemic negligence of Native women and communities across Minnesota, urban and rural. This logical next step will support the national MMU’s (Missing and Murdered Unit) work and be a force multiplier to prevent and bring an end to this pandemic of violence. I remain hopeful that the day will come where we prioritize the safety and well-being of Native people everywhere.”
Nicole Matthews adds, “The work of the MMIW Task Force has been a critical step in understanding this issue in Minnesota. This work was done in partnership with advocates, legislators, Tribal Nations, and multiple systems providers who care about and respond to this issue every day. As an Indigenous woman, mother, and grandmother, this is about so much more than another report. The report and work from the MMIW Task Force tell the stories of real people – our relatives, daughters, sisters, aunties, and our two-spirit relatives. As we prepare to host the last official meeting of the MMIW Task Force, I urge our policymakers and legislators to pass the critical legislation to create an MMIR Office in Minnesota and to send a clear message that they care about and are committed to protecting the lives of the people on whose land we all stand.”