Gov. Roy Cooper declared Tuesday, May 5 a “Day of Awareness for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.” The advocacy group Shatter the Silence reports that 31 native women have gone missing or been murdered in eastern North Carolina since 1998. The state tracked at least 90 cases of murdered or missing indigenous women in North Carolina since 1994. But advocates say the real numbers are likely much higher.
Journalist and nonprofit leader Antionette Kerr reported on missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) in North Carolina in the piece “North Carolina officials are ignoring a crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women” for Scalawag Magazine, highlighting the 2017 deaths of three women in Robeson County: Rhonda Jones, Kristin “Christina” Bennet and Megan Oxendine. Their families say they were murdered, but their official cause of death is “undetermined.”
Host Frank Stasio talks with Kerr about the MMIW awareness movement. Crystal “Red Bear” Cavalier Keck and Jane Jacobs also join the conversation. Cavalier Keck is a doctoral student writing her dissertation on MMIW awareness and a member of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation. Jacobs’ sister Korina Locklear was raped and stabbed in Pembroke in 2018. Both point to a history of mistrust between native communities and law enforcement contributing to the problem of high rates of violence against indigenous women.