On February 14, 2021, Governor Walz issued a proclamation designating that day as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Awareness Day. In recognition of that proclamation and of the importance of Indigenous communities to Minnesota, Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton), alongside Senator Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Minneapolis), made an announcement on the Senate floor.
“February 14 is a day that we usually acknowledge our loved ones and cherished ones. It is also an important day as we recognize our missing and murdered indigenous relatives,” said Senator Mary Kunesh. “Our American Indian women make up 1% of our state’s population but 8% of missing and murdered women and girls in Minnesota between 2010 and 2018 were American Indian. Between 27 and 54 American Indian women and girls in Minnesota were missing in any given month from 2012 to 2020. Our Indigenous women, girls, men, boys, LGBQI+, Two-Spirit, transgender, and gender non-conforming people continue to be targeted for murder, it is our responsibility to not let this continue to happen.”
Senator Mary Kunesh is the first American Indian member of the Minnesota Senate. She was the chief author of legislation that created the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force. The task force completed an initial report in December 2020 and presented to the Legislature in January 2021.