The Eastern PA Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) attended the 7th annual Pottstown Powwow, May 1-2, and hosted a display that featured the growing tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Their colorful, much-visited display included posters, buttons, t-shirts and post cards for sale, and symbolic red dresses hanging from trees.
Their visuals bore a signature image: a young Native woman with a red handprint on her back indicating the brutal treatment and silencing of Native women’s voices. Voices are being raised across the nation in a social justice campaign that calls for investigation and legislation to bring an end to this tragedy.
From April 29 to, May 5, many are observing National Week of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). On Wednesday, May 5 people are asked to wear red attire in recognition of the tragic disappearances and loss of life among women and girls in Native communities.
To learn more visit the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center website: https://www.niwrc.org/mmiwgnatlweek21.
CONAM members Ronald Williams leads a small group that organizes the annual weekend powwow, which was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic and was moved to Pottstown Riverfront Park this year. Crowds enjoyed Native songs, drumming, dances and regalia attire, along with food, fellowship, festivities, and vendors’ gifts and souvenirs for sale.
“Our goal was to create awareness of the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG),” said CONAM secretary Verna Colliver. “Many visitors to the powwow stopped by our table to learn more about the indifference and lack of action to stop the brutal treatment of women. Some shared personal stories and helped us understand more fully the need for more visibility and action to end this injustice.”
The red dresses hanging from clotheslines between the trees symbolize the missing women and girls whose families continue to mourn their loss. You can read more about the REDress Project conceived by Canadian artist Jaime Black (Metis) on her website: https://www.jaimeblackartist.com/exhibitions/. Also, visit the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center website: https://www.niwrc.org/mmiwgnatlweek21.
Also, the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference CONAM will host a webinar conversation with Dr. Casey Church on Thursday, May 13, at 7 PM to 8:30 PM, about the COVID-19 pandemic and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and their impacts on Native American communities. This webinar will provide resources for individuals and/or congregations who desire to raise awareness and be of support.
Dr. Casey Church, author and scholar, is the Leader and Pastor of Good Medicine Way, a contextual ministry with Native Americans in Albuquerque New Mexico. He is an enrolled member of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi of Michigan. Learn more and register to attend.