Today is the National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. One day. There’s a lot of red being worn; some say the red is worn or painted on faces because it’s the only color that spirits see. It’s painted over the mouths of young women because many believe their voices have been silenced.
They have not been. They have voices
An elected woman within the Blackfeet trigged who called me the voice for the voiceless and suggested I write a novel “because even if you change their names, they’ll know who you’re talking about” was wrong on both counts. Their cries, shrieks, and prayers are heard. I hear them, I feel them. Those sounds, carried through wind and on the water, are etched eternally onto my very being. There is not a day when women and girls who have been disappeared from Indian Country to be sexually trafficked, often killed in the process, are not part of my world.
Sept 6, 2017, a Navajo cop sent me a missing person’s flyer and asked, “What do you feel from this?” Eight days later I was in the Arizona desert, thinking that I’d be back in 10 days after returning a missing woman. I left seven months later after being walked directly into a sex trafficking network operated by the Sinaloa cartel and in partnership with Indian gaming.
Since that winter I have lived with a price on my head, intermittent electronic and physical surveillance. I’m alive because two groups of people want to know how it is I know so much, even when they’re not certain exactly what it is I know. I’m alive because the competing interests are aware that each knows the other is watching, waiting.
I’ve been to federal law enforcement who, though listening to phone calls, can’t be bothered to pick up the phone to call. I’ve gone to tribal, state and local law enforcement personnel, sought the intervention from state Senators, elected and non-elected tribal leadership. I’ve gone to people here, in this sphere, and NGOs and been ignored.
The question is no longer why. It’s clear that one group doesn’t want to engage because they could give two fucks about brown-skinned women being disappeared, bought and sold on the market, like any other commodity.
Other interests don’t want their easy enterprise interrupted, even when they are not the ones benefitting from the enterprise because, in this few do. Those at the beginning of the thread? What do you think they’re getting from being the baiters and brokers?
Contrast that with those in the gaming industry and its consulting ‘game’, those in governorships-tribal and white (four at last count) across the country, senators, sheriffs, chiefs and justices; what do you think they’re getting from these deals? The casinos? The Nations?
From stem to stern, how many people do you think make this kind of network run? How many people know these people and turn the other way? Do you have any idea how much political muscle this takes? Physical spaces? Electronic space?
How many people ignore what their uncle, mother, cousin, brother, teacher, preacher, nun (oh, yes), favorite baseball player and storyteller do when they aren’t in the public eye? How many housekeepers, concierges, bartenders, croupiers, manager, accountants, security personnel watch and provide cover for minders and pimps?
How many people see something and never say something? What do all of these people gain? What does the federal gov’t gain by not engaging or investigating? Who is covering whose ass and why?
And an elected official wanted me to write a novel.
No. What I’m writing is the truth, the whole truth, the unbearable truth that I carry for those whose voices others refuse to hear.
Those voices attached to bodies that have been buried in the desert, burned in piles like logs, and dropped into the cold waters.
There is a myth that those who disappear and kill ‘their women’ are the ‘twisted’ ones. They are no more twisted than those who see something but will not say something; those who would prefer to see more girls and women given to a system than ‘snitch’.
I’ll see your #awareness and #wearred and raise it to #SAYSOMETHING! Fucking say something. That red hand across mouths? That shouldn’t be over those of victims, it should be over those who refuse to speak what they know. There are pages on FB that exhort “somebody knows something”, they are right! Those somebodies need to start speaking.
Or at least have the courage to hear what someone else is saying and ask questions.
This was ‘not my circus, not my monkeys’ until I fell in love with a little girl with pink rose in her hair in September 2017. Her voice lives in me. So do thousands more. It is for them I breathe.