The issue of abused, missing, and murdered Native Americans is finally gaining media and legislative attention after years of neglect. The way the subject is handled, on the other hand, is a troubling case study in gender politics and science.
Let’s take a quick look at the science. According to the US Department of Justice, nearly identical percentages of male and female Native Americans have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetimes: 81.6 percent of males and 84.3 percent of females.
In addition, 73 percent of Native American men and 66 percent of Native American women have experienced psychological abuse from an intimate partner at some point in their lives.
The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, is a database maintained by the Department of Justice. The database reveals that boys and men account for the vast majority of missing American Indians (68%): 523 males and 242 females.
A report on “Homicides of American Indians/Alaska Natives” was recently released by the Centers for Disease Control. The report found that males account for 75.5 percent of all American Indian homicide victims, based on an analysis of 1,496 Indigenous homicides.
As a result, men and women have roughly equal chances of being victims of abuse. Men, on the other hand, are far more at risk than women when it comes to missing and murdered American Indians.
The Violence Against Women Act was amended in 2013 to include a new section titled “Safety for Indian Women.” This amendment sparked a national campaign called Murdered and Missing Indian Women, or MMIW for short.
The MMIW movement fought vehemently for the rights of missing and murdered Indian women. However, he made a conscious effort to avoid mentioning Indian men.
Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, for example, wrote an editorial last year titled “The Shocking History of Violence Against Native Women is a Crisis We Can Stop.” The “crisis” of missing or murdered Indigenous women was mentioned several times in the essay.
The article made no mention of the larger issue of missing or murdered American Indian men, such as Russell Shack, who was shot by Amber Yazzie during an armed robbery in Gallup, New Mexico. Or Odell Vest, a member of the Southern Ute tribe who vanished without a trace on July 10, 2000 — no one knows where he is or if he is still alive.
The House of Representatives then held a hearing on the “Neglected Epidemic of Missing BIPOC Women and Girls” on March 3rd. Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois convened the hearing.
The all-too-obvious exclusion of missing men from the hearing did not go unnoticed. “African American Leaders Should Censure Rep. Robin Kelly for Neglect of Missing Black Men,” according to the National Black Guide. Rep. Kelly was taught the fundamentals of constitutional law by the NBG, which ironically noted that “The Fourteenth Amendment, adopted on July 9, 1868, guarantees ‘equal protection of the laws’ to all persons.”
PBS recently aired “Bring Her Home,” an hour-long documentary that fails to cite any government studies, quote leading academics, or provide opposing viewpoints on the subject. Rather, the film tells the story of three Indian women who set out to raise awareness about the issue of missing and murdered Indians. There isn’t a single mention of missing or murdered Indian men.
“Here we have the possibility that a young boy attending one of these rallies will get the impression that he and all other males are not protected or cared for,” Jack Kammer said. And you’ll almost certainly get the message that you shouldn’t talk about your needs because no one cares.”
The collective effect of years of one-sided hearings and media accounts has resulted in what we might call the collective brainwashing of the American mind. A Google search on “murdered and missing indigenous women” turns up 55,700 results, while a Google search on “murdered and missing indigenous men” turns up a very different number — only 2,100 results. That’s a 26-fold disparity.