On a Mission

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Student Reflections on the MMIW March

Written by Star Diavolikis and Zoe Whittaker-Jameson
Read the original post highlighting the MMIW March, published on November 15

Zoe and I attended the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s (MMIW) march last Wednesday, Nov. 17. Here are a few things we appreciated, as we reflected on the day’s events.

  1. Presence from the CWU Community

It was so refreshing seeing that our voices are being heard when we talk about MMIW – this is an issue that affects our whole community. Seeing the turnout of CWU students, faculty and community members made our hearts happy and hopeful that this issue is being talked about beyond the Indigenous community, and we are coming closer and closer to finding loved ones and not forgetting them.

  1. Having a Guest Speaker with a Credible Background

Our guest speaker Dan Nanamkin traveled to drum and speak on MMIW all the way from Nespelem, Washington. He was moved by our CWU community wanting to raise awareness on this issue, and made the drive with his two big dogs just for us. He spoke about how he had a personal connection to someone who had gone missing, and wrote a song in honor of those Indigenous women and girls who are missing or were found murdered.

We really appreciated how he spoke from his heart and could speak to how serious this issue is. The organizers of this march were intentional in bringing a community member that is trustworthy and has direct connections to an Indigenous community.

  1. Hearing the Drums and Singing and Seeing the Regalia

For me, personally, I haven’t heard the drums or any of our singing since the pandemic started. I’m sure it was the same for Zoe. It felt healing and amazing to just be surrounded by the drumbeat and the singing while we did a rounddance in front of Black Hall.

It reminded me how much I miss powwows, so I may have gotten a bit too excited hearing the drum and the singing.

When we entered Black Hall 105 to witness the poster making, I was in awe about all of the regalia in the room. People donned ribbon skirts, beaded earrings and bandanas. I personally had otter furs in my braids alongside a ribbon skirt, and it was so comforting seeing others in regalia.

  1. CWU Community Being Respectful During It

While we were marching along, we didn’t hear a snicker or any rude comments about our regalia, our purpose or our community. Just polite stares, people stepping to the side to watch or simply moving out of our way to respect us. This was a great gesture – anybody could have just walked in the center of us, recorded us to mock us or anything they wanted.

But none of that happened. And we greatly appreciate it.

  1. Feeling Connected to the Indigenous Community Again

After the pandemic started, opportunities to connect and heal with members of the First Nations community was limited. For a lot of us, connecting over social media was one of the ways we could meet with our family and community members. Some family don’t use social media or phones, though, so we had to go a long time without talking to them. For us, this march was one of the first events we could attend that had an Indigenous crowd. We were able to discuss our culture with people who understood, as it was their culture too.

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