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Annual Murdered And Missing Indigenous Women March to be held this weekend

This billboard raising awareness about the march is near Cherokee.
Lea Wolf
This billboard raising awareness about the march is near Cherokee.

The Qualla Boundary Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Committee is hosting the third annual awareness walk on Saturday, April 30th at Oconaluftee Island Park.

Loretta Bolden is one of the founding members of the committee.

“I made a sign for each girl that I’m aware of or has been given name to and as we walk we stop at each sign and say her name,” said Bolden.

She says that as a survivor of domestic violence it is important to raise awareness about the number of indigenous people who are killed – or are still missing.

“There are a lot of things that have stemmed me to make a move and try to get this going. Just to bring awareness and to alert other girls that this can happen to you. If you are in a domestic violence relationship – you need to really think about it. I just get emotional when I talk about this,” said Bolden.

Here are the details for the MMIW march on Saturday, April 30th.
Courtesy of Atesi Cooper
Here are the details for the MMIW march on Saturday, April 30th.

Speakers include: ‘We Are Resilient: A MMIW True Crime Podcast,’ the EBCI domestic violence and sexual violence department, and the Ernestine Walkingstick Domestic Violence Shelter.

The event will start at the fire pit next to artist row at the Oconaluftee Island Park on Tsali Blvd at 11am, the walk begins at 12 pm. There will be water and light refreshments provided.

The event is held in tandem with the MMIW NC organization in Eastern North Carolina. The MMIW NC event is at the same time in Gibsonville, NC. It will be the 4th year that the event has been held.

MMIW NC conducted its own research analyzing the 106 murdered and missing cases in the state between the 1960s to 2021. The organization found that 57 percent of those missing were women and girls. From that data, 33 percent were from Robeson County (where the Lumbee Tribev is primarily located) and 14 percent were members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee.

Indigenous women are murdered at a higher rate than white women – as much as 10 times higher than the national average in some counties in the U.S., according to a report by the Department of Justice(DOJ).

During last year’s event in Cherokee, 16 women from the Eastern Band were memorialized.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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