Why We’re Calling for Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

by Kim Marks

September 7, 2016

We cannot have a green and peaceful future until all communities are safe and healthy.

Justice for Jackie

Photo by Mitch Wenkus / Greenpeace.

On July 28, dozens of traditional canoes arrived to the shores of Point Defiance in Tacoma, Washington, the historical territory of the Puyallup tribe.

Most of the paddlers arrived in a white shirt with the image of Puyallup tribal member Jackie Salyers, who, along with her unborn baby, was killed by police in January 2016. The case is still under investigation and has led to an effort to get legislation on police use of deadly force on the ballot in the state of Washington.

Jackie is one of thousands of Indigenous women in North America who have been murdered or gone missing over the past few decades at the hands of acquaintances, family members, or police.

A week earlier, I wrote about what it means to us at Greenpeace to join the Tribal Canoe Journey 2016 in the Salish Sea. The annual journey was established 1993 as a celebration and honoring of the Coast Salish First Nations and tribes. It’s an opportunity for families to spend time together, for youth to learn songs, dance, and traditions from elders, and for participants to honor those who fight to protect the environment and Indigenous rights.

In joining this journey, we committed to sharing the stories of the communities that invited us to participate. And that means sharing the stories of women like Jackie and standing in solidarity with the movement to bring justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women across North America.

We stand with this movement for racial and gender justice because we know that we cannot have a green and peaceful future until all communities are safe and healthy.

As Chester Earl, Puyallup tribal member and a relative of Salyers, said:

“If we begin to stand tall and speak loud as one voice, we will no longer be ignored. It is important that we support each other; the family was honored to have so much support during Tribal Journeys.”

By Kim Marks

Kim Marks is part of the grassroots organizing team at Greenpeace USA.

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