The second annual Oneida Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women Walk will take place at 11 am on Saturday, May 7.
Several other Indigenous communities will host events to raise awareness of the disproportionate risk of violence Indigenous women face. National statistics indicate Indigenous women are 10 times more likely to be murdered than any other group, and murder is the third leading cause of death among Indigenous women.
Event organizer Renita Hernandez said the Oneida Nation, where she directs the Tribal Action Plan to address opioid and other drug addiction, has experienced less violence than some other indigenous communities, but hope to stand in solidarity.
“I’m here to create awareness that it’s happening to our relatives from other tribes,” Hernandez said. “It affects men and women, it affects girls and boys. It affects everyone. Our goal is to create awareness around it to educate people that just because it’s not really happening here in our community, we have relatives from other nations from other communities that are affected, and we just want to let them know that we are here to support them.”
Hernandez said last year’s attendance of about 75 was surprising, and she’s hoping for more this year.
“I wasn’t expecting that many people to show up” last year, she said. “I’m kind of hoping to double that this year.
Hernandez said gathering will begin at Oneida Recreation Center at 10 am, where people can pick up their free t-shirts. The walk will begin at 11 am and proceed to the la crosse fields, where guests will speak. Buffalo Creek Singers will perform traveling songs.
Speakers will include Jenny Webster, an Oneida Nation council member who also sits on the Wisconsin Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force, and Allyse Arce, the daughter or Rae Tourtillott, whose 1986 murder has not been solved.
Hernandez said drug addiction, especially opioid abuse, goes “hand in hand” with violence, something her Tribal Action Plan office is working hard to address.
“We are here to create awareness of the drug epidemic in our community,” she said. “That’s our main focus. We’re here to educate people. Right now, and I hate to say this, but our community is kind of in vague awareness of the problem. They know it’s there, but nobody wants to talk about it.”