Gender politics overwhelms science on missing Native Americans

After years of neglect, the problem of abused, missing, and murdered Native Americans is attracting the attention of the media and lawmakers. However, the way the subject is handled serves as a disturbing case study of the intersection of gender politics and science.

Let’s take a quick look at the science. First, nearly identical percentages of Native American men and women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime: 81.6% of men and 84.3% of women, according to the US Department of Justice.

Additionally, 73% of Native American men and 66% of Native American women have experienced psychological assault from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

The Department of Justice hosts a database called the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs. The database reveals that a strong majority, 68%, of missing Native Americans are boys and men: 523 men and 242 women.

The Centers for Disease Control also recently released a report on “American Indian/Alaska Native Homicides.” Based on its analysis of 1,496 homicides of Native people, the report found that men make up 75.5% of all Native American homicide victims.

Thus, in the domain of violence, men and women have almost an equal chance of being victimized. But for missing and murdered American Indians, it is the men who are at far greater risk.

Now for the fun part… guess how the politicians decided to define the problem?

In 2013, Congress added a new section to the Violence Against Women Act, titled “Indian Women’s Safety”. This amendment soon spawned a national campaign known as the Murdered and Missing Indian Women, or MMIW.

The MMIW movement has engaged in zealous advocacy for missing and murdered Indian women. But consistently avoided mentioning Indian men.

Last year, for example, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska published an op-ed titled “The shocking story of violence against Native women is a crisis we can stop.” The essay made several references to the “crisis” of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The article made no mention of the larger issue of missing or murdered Native American men, such as Russell Shack of Gallup, New Mexico, who was shot dead by Amber Yazzie during an armed robbery. Or Odell Vest of the Southern Ute Tribe, who disappeared without a trace on July 10, 2000 – to this day no one knows where he is or if he is still alive.

Apparently, when an issue affects 578 murdered aboriginal women, it is a “crisis”. But if it affects 918 aboriginal men, it doesn’t.

Then, on March 3, the House of Representatives held a hearing on “The Overlooked Epidemic of Missing BIPOC Women and Girls” (BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). The hearing was called by Representative Robin Kelly of Illinois.

The too apparent exclusion of the missing men during the hearing did not go unnoticed. For example, the National Black Guide issued a statement that “African American leaders should censure Rep. Robin Kelly for neglect of missing black men.” The NBG statement taught Rep. Kelly the basics of constitutional law, ironically noting that “the Fourteenth Amendment, passed July 9, 1868, guarantees ‘equal protection of the laws’ to all persons.”

Just a few days ago, PBS premiered “Take her home,“an hour-long video that does not cite any government studies, cite leading academics, or provide contrasting perspectives on this topic. Rather, the film chronicles the quest of three Indian women to bring to light the problem of missing and murdered Indians No mention is made up of missing or murdered Indian men.

In response, commentator Rebecca Stewart noted that in the “Take her home” video, “men are branded as aggressors with the comment that society needs to ‘re-teach men how to relate to women’. This widespread misrepresentation undermines the truth of the process and unfortunately stagnates progress for all of Indigenous society.

And Jack Kammer remarked: “Here we have the possibility that a young boy attending one of these gatherings will feel that he and all the other men are excluded from protection and taken care of. of them. And most likely get the message that it’s better not to talk about what you need because no one cares.

The collective effect of years of one-sided hearings and media accounts has resulted in what we might call the collective brainwashing of the American mind. A Google search for “murdered and missing natives womenreturns 55,700 results, while a Google search for “missing and murdered Indigenous men” returns a very different number – just 2,100 results. That’s a 26 times disparity.

Why do the lives of Native American men seem so much less than the lives of Native American women?

Edward Bartlett is the founder of the Coalition to End Domestic Violence.

Nohemi M. Moore