Friday, May 3, 2024

Governor Cooper Proclaims May 5 as Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Showing support for American Indian women and families disproportionately impacted by violent crimes each year

May 3, 2024

Governor Roy Cooper has declared May 5 as a Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women to show support and raise awareness on the disproportionate rate of American Indian and Alaska Native women who have disappeared or lost their lives due to acts of violence.

“Unfortunately, Indigenous women face disproportionately higher rates of violence,” said Governor Cooper. “We must continue to raise awareness, work to protect and pursue justice for those affected.”

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. Moreover, many of the crimes committed against American Indian women and girls are associated with domestic and other forms of violence such as sexual assault and human trafficking.

“To help put an end to this growing disparity, we need continued preventative resources and services for American Indian women and their families,” said North Carolina Department of Administration Secretary Pamela Brewington Cashwell, North Carolina’s first American Indian woman to serve as Cabinet leader.

“We must all work together to help keep American Indian communities safe and find justice for the many families of victims each year.”

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, sexual assault and human trafficking 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 information or resources, visit the Commission of Indian Affairs’ Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program website.

Read Governor Cooper’s proclamation here and see Secretary Cashwell’s video here about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Day.

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.