BILLINGS – Several hundred people gathered at the MSU-Billings Native American Achievement Center on Friday morning for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women March.
The group marched on the west side of North 27th Street and was helped by police officers as they marched toward the Yellowstone County Courthouse.
The march began at about 10 a.m.
The Native American Achievement Center at MSU-Billings wrote the crisis of MMIWG is prevalent in the Billings community and the march is an important step in ending the violence against Native women.
Senator Steve Daines, who believes missing and murdered Native women is a significant problem in Montana, has introduced four different legislative actions to combat crimes toward Native Americans.
“We walked humbly today in this march, what is lacking is justice,” said Daines at the rally today. “We must bring justice to these missing and murdered indigenous women.”
The march falls on the same day Hanna’s Act, a bill named in honor of Hanna Harris, a Lame Deer woman murdered on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in 2013, is scheduled for its third reading in the Montana Senate.
Hanna’s Act originally said the Montana Department of Justice “shall” hire a missing persons specialist to work closely with local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies on missing persons cases. The specialist would have been responsible for managing the state missing persons database and organizing training for law enforcement authorities on how to handle missing persons cases.
“All of these indigenous women and people that go missing, you feel it you know you hold your babies you know a little closer that night,” said Walter Runsabove, the Native American Achievement Center Program Coordinator.
Republican Sen. Jennifer Fielder of Thompson Falls said the bill was amended to say that the department “may” hire the specialist, and to remove the position’s specific job description.