May 5, 2024

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

How does one grieve a loss when there is no body?  What is the meaning of mourning when one’s heart is shredded, one’s spirit has flown from the body creating an empty soul, and one’s vision of the future is misery and pain?  There is phenomenal suffering across Native American nations that often goes unseen/unacknowledged by non-Native peoples regarding the traumas of missing and murdered Indigenous women.  The trauma from these losses should not continue to be overlooked.

There is a common declaration, “No Justice, no peace.”  Yet, how does one experience peace when perpetrators are never found and convicted?  In the absence of justice, a peace that restores balance to life cannot be experienced.  When there are no consequences for stealing and devouring women’s lives, the ravenous appetite for indigenous women continues to grow as an insatiable hunger.  It is important to acknowledge that missing and murdered indigenous women is not a recent crisis.  Rather, it is a historic trauma, a protracted-traumatic devastation, that has gone unchallenged for more than 400 years.

One of the noted precipitating events of the Sand Creek Massacre, now at the 160th anniversary, was the Hungate Massacre.  This was the murder of a white settler family whose bodies were made a spectacle in Denver to provoke terror and outrage.  But what of the numbers of raped and murdered Native women by settlers and soldiers prior to the Hungate massacre (which may not have been perpetrated by Cheyenne or Arapahoe)? Who has told the stories of these violated and murdered Indigenous women of Colorado?

Many are familiar with the concept of “settler colonialism.”  Some have also suggested “settler genocide.”  Connecting colonialism with genocide, we know that rape is a weapon of the genocidal agenda.  An article on the violence against Nature American women declares, “As a Cheyenne proverb states, a tribal nation is ‘not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground’” (  The grief and mourning caused by the missing and murdered, however, does mean that our hearts of broken.

We pray for those who grieve and mourn the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls while acknowledging many of the missing are the kidnapped victims of human trafficking.  We pray for more justice workers who will engage in advocacy to bring this crisis to an end.  We pray that Iliff will continue to be a place where doing justice and loving mercy remains our guiding light.