Arizona State University students and faculty are joining together in November to celebrate Native American Heritage Month and bring awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous peoples.
This month is to honor Indigenous people and to celebrate Native cultures, languages, and indigeneity, according to the Arizona Mirror.
The Research on Violent Victimization Lab at the ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice is continuing to partner with Arizona’s statewide study to address missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as part of House Bill 2570, which established a study committee to examine the data.
“The purpose of [the] study is to understand the scope of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Arizona and to identify culturally accurate and appropriate recommendations to reduce missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” according to the ASU’s 2020 study and HB2570.
The Legislature of the state of Arizona enacted HB2570 in 2019. ASU is leading the state’s research and advocacy with groups including the ASU Office of American Indian Projects, ASU Women and Philanthropy, ASU Sex Trafficking Intervention and Research, and ASU American Indian Initiatives.
In Arizona, 57% of the murdered Indigenous females were killed in urban locations, including Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe and Scottsdale. This means more than 40 Native American females have been killed in Maricopa County, according to the 2020 study.
The majority of these murders were conducted by knives and firearms. The reason for these murders is mostly unknown; however, about 30% of these homicides involved an argument between a victim and offender, according to the study.
The study also found women between their 20s and 40s have the highest risk of being killed. The number of murdered indigenous women is increasing. In 1997, two women were found killed in Arizona. Yet in 2017, that number jumped to 12 women murdered.
Many ASU students and faculty are joining the study.
“I belong to both the Chickasaw and Caddo tribes of Oklahoma. Growing up in Phoenix, I felt a little disconnected to the Native community,” said Tyler Shea Allen, the Downtown Campus Student Vice Chair and Marketing Chair for ASU’s Native American Heritage Month committee. “This semester I took on a job with American Indian Student Support Services and now I finally feel like an active part of the Native community.”
“For over a century it was illegal for Native Americans to celebrate their traditions and culture under punishment of federal laws. As a result, our people suffered spiritually and lost much of our language and traditions,” Allen said. “Having a whole month to celebrate the many different Indigenous people sends a strong message that we do belong here and that there is so much we have to offer to the world.”
This month, ASU is asking students and faculty to wear red on Wednesdays and share pictures on social media in support of Native American Heritage Month and MMIWG. Red represents the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls across the globe.
“On Wednesdays, we wear red!” ASU’s student and cultural engagement website says.
Along with wearing red, ASU is hosting several events this month. “Native Connecting @ ASU,” “Cal Seciwa Feast N’Fest,” “Sol Power Dance Cipher: NAHM Edition,” “Culinary Storytelling: Preserving Native Culture,” and “Not Thanksgiving: The True Story,” are only a few events coming up for the rest of November. To see the full list, visit, Upcoming Native American Heritage Month Events.
To help support the many Native communities, the ASU Native American Heritage Month committee recommends buying authentic Native American art and literature, keeping informed about missing and murdered Indigenous peoples, and attending local events.
Paige Galey is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
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