Governor Roy Cooper has declared May 5 as a Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women to raise awareness about the disproportionate rate of American Indian and Alaska Native women who have disappeared from their homes and lost their lives due to acts of violence.
“Too many communities, especially communities of color, are impacted by violence,” said Governor Cooper. “As we raise awareness about the disproportionate rate of missing and murdered indigenous women, we also recommit ourselves to pursuing justice for them and their families.”
American Indians face some of the highest rates of violent crime in the country. In some tribal communities, Indigenous women face murder rates that are roughly 10 times the national average according to a study conducted on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice.
“As an American Indian woman, the stats are both alarming and heartbreaking. We must continue to be a voice for victims and their families, engaging law enforcement and increasing outreach and education to combat this unconscionable issue,” said North Carolina Department of Administration Secretary Pamela Brewington Cashwell, North Carolina’s first American Indian woman to serve as Cabinet leader.
“It is vital that we further acknowledge and work to close the gaps that lead to this continued victimization, to help keep American Indian communities safe,” Secretary Cashwell said.
Over the past 60 years, North Carolina had approximately 106 missing and murdered cases involving American Indians with 57 percent of those missing being women and girls.
Due to poor data collection, this number is merely a fraction of those crimes considering many go unreported each year. North Carolina has the largest American Indian population east of the Mississippi and is home to eight state recognized tribes including the Coharie, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Meherrin, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, Sappony and the Waccamaw-Siouan.
The NC Department of Administration’s Commission of Indian Affairs works with tribal communities to provide resources and education to women experiencing domestic and sexual violence. Support for domestic violence and sexual assault victims is just one of the ways the Commission has advocated for local and regional American Indian concerns since the agency was established by the NC General Assembly in 1971.
“We provide resources including volunteer advocates for tribal populations such as the Coharie, Haliwa-Saponi, Meherrin, Sappony and Waccamaw-Siouan,” said NC Commission of Indian Affairs Director Greg Richardson. “It’s imperative that we not only lend support but be a voice and continue to shed light on this disparity impacting our communities.”
For additional resources and information on North Carolina’s state recognized tribes, visit the NC Commission of Indian Affairs website for details.
About NCDOA and the NC Commission of Indian Affairs
The NC Department of Administration acts as the business manager for North Carolina state government. Under the leadership of Secretary Pamela B. Cashwell, the department oversees government operations and advocacy programs. The department's advocacy programs help to promote and assist diverse segments of the state's population that have been traditionally underserved. The NC Commission of Indian Affairs advocates for the needs of American Indian residents in North Carolina. It administers programs and services to American Indian communities across the state, including education and resources to aid in social and economic development. The Commission also works to address disparities and promote unity among American Indian and non-Indian communities.