RONAN – For the third time, a 19-year-old woman is making an 80-mile journey on foot to raise awareness for the missing and murdered Indigenous women epidemic.
Marita Growing Thunder is taking an awareness walk around the Flathead Indian Reservation this year in honor of Jermain Charlo, who went missing almost a year ago in Missoula.
She is one of the thousands of young native women to go missing throughout the United States within the last year alone, sparking widespread outrage around the issue of investigation and prosecution of these cases.
“It’s emotional, it’s physical, and it’s spiritual,” Growing Thunder said of the experience. “So it’s kind of dealing with the fact that this is such a huge issue in the native community. And there are different types, different ways of healing, and it’s different for everybody, so this is just one type of healing for me and my family and the people that are involved currently today.”
Growing Thunder plans to make the walk in four days, ending at the border of the reservation on Sunday.
She is joined by Charlo’s grandmother and about a dozen other community members and activists.
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe passed a resolution in January to address the problem and recently hosted training and workshops to educate the community.