By Miranda Reale
HUDSON – The CDC states that murder is the third-leading cause of death among Native American women. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls report, prepared by Urban Indian Health Institute, a Tribal epidemiology center, examines missing persons data and specifically looks at the details, or lack of details involved with the data collection on missing and murdered Indigenous women. Often overlooked, misrepresented or unaccounted for, the heightened risk for these women and communities do not correlate with the shortfall of awareness.
National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is May 5th, and a call to action was organized for the first time in Hudson last Friday. The Forge Project, launched in 2021, lead a march in the city of Hudson for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP). Partnered with R.I.S.E. (Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment), the march started at Henry Hudson Park and stretched across Warren Street to end at City Hall. There, organizers of Forge Project spoke of their experiences and reminded everyone of rightful ownership of the land being marched on. “We are older than the land you are standing on right now and we should not have to fear death because of who we are,” said Heather Bruegl, former director of education at Forge Project and a member of the Oneida/Stockbridge Munsee Nation.
The day was emotional for many and red was the color; organizers and marchers were instructed to wear red to alert onlookers, but also as a symbol for visibility as a whole.
Data in many of these cases is difficult to collect when taking into account how law enforcement responds to these cases, and how the cases are reported in the media which make statistics precarious, but while marching down Warren Street, crimson blazing and megaphones amplifying the message: “Native people deserve peace, no justice, no peace!”; the numbers were hard to ignore. “This march is so important because we need awareness. We have to save our mothers, sisters, aunties, grandmas– they are all part of us, and we are part of them. And we are part of this land, and this epidemic happens on this land, in this country, and it has to stop,” Bruegl continued.
Executive Director of Forge Project and a member of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, spoke about her upbringing in Canada, growing up in a town right beside one of the largest natural gas resources in the country. In Port St. John, the winter brings thousands of men in for work. “That creates an epidemic for us. Women are raped, murdered, there is violence– and that’s the reason I left that town on the night of my graduation. I knew if I stayed, my life was not going to be a long life,” she explained.
The Hudson Common Council designated May 5 as the National Day of Awareness for MMIP, an initiative pushed by Heather Bruegl, and the Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson joined the speakers at City Hall. “Our higher elected officials have to do better. They have to do more than name a day without action attached to it. As an ally, now that I fully understand the issue and I got to hear from our speakers and see our young people lead this march, I feel like I am an ally,” he said.