Remembering Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women

Feb 2, 2015

The “Sing Our Rivers Red” program is presented in memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Credit Courtesy Netha Cloeter

Indigenous women from across the country are taking part in a week-long series of events this month aimed at raising awareness of missing, murdered and abused Native American and First Nations women. The “Sing Our Rivers Red” program includes a variety of presentations along with a unique art project that women of all races are being asked to take part in.

More than 1181 Indigenous women and girls have been murdered or reported missing in Canada since 1980. Here in the U.S. Native American women are two-and-a-half times more likely to be sexually assaulted than non-Native women. Seventy percent of those incidents are committed against Native women by non-Natives.

Tanaya Winder - co-organizer of the “Sing Our Rivers Red” events.
Credit Courtesy Tanaya Winder

Tanaya Winder organized the “Sing Our Rivers Red” events with long-time friend Hannabah Blue. She says a key part of the program is the traveling art exhibit that will present 1181 individual ear rings, representing each of the missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

“The ear ring exhibit was my idea,” Winder explains. “And I just thought of it because….just what the ear rings could symbolize…they symbolize the missing women. And it’s very important to us to not…clump them all together in a vase or something…but to show each of them individually. Just an artistic and visual representation of...of these women."

Winder says women are being asked to donate either one ear ring from a set that’s missing its partner or one from a complete set with the idea of wearing the remaining ear ring in memory of a missing or murdered Indigenous woman.

Netha Cloeter - curator for the Memorial State Gallery at North Dakota State University.
Credit Courtesy Netha Cloeter

Netha Cloeter is curator for the Memorial State Gallery at North Dakota State University – where the ear ring exhibit is on display from February 9 to March 4.

“I think this is an issue that’s continually marginalized and silenced in the larger conversation about violence and missing individuals,” observes Cloeter. “And we’re, in particular in North Dakota, really interested in bringing this to light because of the increase in human trafficking happening with oil in western North Dakota.” 20

Events scheduled for the “Sing Our Rivers Red” program take place in Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota the week of Valentine’s Day to coincide with similar events taking place in Canada. They include a poetry Speak Out, a self-defense and self-empowerment workshop for women, a concert by Rosebud Sioux rapper Frank Waln, a march and a rally.

555 ear rings have been collected for the “Sing Our Rivers Red” traveling art exhibit. Another 626 are needed by February 9.
Credit Courtesy Netha Cloeter

Anyone interested in donating an ear ring to the “Sing Our Rover Red” program traveling art exhibit may send it to:  

Netha CloeterMemorial Union 258Dept. 5340, P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050 

For more information on the “Sing Our Rivers Red” program: