Missing and murdered Indigenous Women Washington (MMIWW) is a charitable nonprofit that aims to create change and healing for victims, their families, and their communities. They work with government agencies, schools, and law enforcement to ensure that these organizations have the resources to educate and prevent crimes against Indigenous people. They also work to provide support services and resources to help victims and families heal.

Their efforts are of grave importance given that Native American women are more than twice as likely to experience violence than any other demographic in the United States. In addition, violence towards Indigenous women is often underreported.

In 2018, Earth-Feather Sovereign came together with a small group of women to found MMIWW. Sovereign, a member of the Colville Confederacy of Tribes, said she was moved to start the organization in response to the work of Missing and Murdered Indegenous Women and Girls, an organization advocating for First Nations women and girls in Canada.

Over the past several years, MMIWW has worked with government agencies to push forward various legislation. In 2018, Sovereign and House Rep. Gina Mosbrucker put forth House Bill 2951. It aimed to conduct a study to determine how to better report and track missing and murdered Indigenous people in the state.

In 2019, H.B. 1713 was passed. The bill aimed to improve law enforce-ment response, communication, and relationships between government and tribal communities.

This year, Sovereign and MMIWW helped develop Washington state H.B. 1571. Sovereign says this bill has multiple facets, but in part, it will ensure that family members of a missing person will be contacted if they are found murdered.

“It would give the family the right to pray over their loved one’s body,” Sovereign says.

In addition to this, the bill would create a public alert system—similar to Amber or Silver Alerts—called the Red Thunder Alert, which would broadcast if someone goes missing. Lastly, the bill would create funding to increase messaging such as billboards and pamphlets for women who may be trafficked, and would set up a healing center for those who have been trafficked.

Sovereign wants to encourage all those who support the work of MMIWW to contact their local legislatures to show support for the bill, which will be voted on in the next legislative session.

Aside from their efforts to make change through policy MMIWW is constantly attempting to locate currently missing people. Descriptions of missing individuals can be found on MMIW’s website, with unsolved cases dating as far back as 1973.

MMIWW’s current efforts are heavily focused on social media—but these platforms can only reach so far.Sovereign says when members of indingenous communities go missing, they’re not just missing once, they’re missing three times—physically, in the media, and in the data.

Sovereign commented on the recent murder of Gabby Petito, whose story garnered national media attention.

“Our hearts go out to the Petito family, but it just reminds us how invisible our people feel, because there’s not a lot of media or publicity surrounding our people,” says Sovereign. “If other people can encourage the media to look more into our cases and to help us get that news and energy out there, that would be awesome.”

For more information about MMIWW, and how to give support, visit missingandmurderedindigenouswomen.org.

P.O. 257 PMB 4781, Olympia