(Riverton, WY) – Over 100 participants walked from the 789 Gas Station to Riverton City Park on Saturday, May 7th for the 3rd annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Person (MMIP) March for Justice.
At the City Park bandshell, lunch was provided and attendees heard from several speakers including Eastern Shoshone Business Council member Mike Ute along with community members who have lost loved ones.
Ute talked about the failures of the judicial system he has noticed. Whether that is just reporting something and nothing happens, it gets lost in the court system or it gets dropped.
He then explained what the community can do to help by sharing with the Council where the laws need to be fixed to better serve the people. He also noted those changes do not have to come from the Council.
“It doesn’t have to come from us, it can come from you. If you want to write some of the laws; if you want to get something changed, help us to help you.”
Sergio Maldonado shared a message from Northern Arapaho Business Council Chair Jordan Dresser who could not be in attendance Saturday:
“The Northern Arapaho Tribe joins all Tribal communities in remembering our missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The victims and their families deserve to be honored and as a community, we must come together to prevent future violence against women.”
Vernita Shakespeare spoke about her son Tony Harris, who was accidentally hit by a vehicle in November 2020. The circumstances leading up to him being on the road are still being investigated.
“My son was beaten before he was accidentally killed and the individuals are still being investigated to this day. And it’s hard because it happens to too many of us, we don’t get the answers that we need. I want justice for Tony.”
The family of Shawna Jo Bell also spoke during the event. The circumstances surrounding her death are still under investigation and the family fears, like many others, questions will go unanswered.
Other speakers included George Leonard, Bobbi Shongutsie, Chesie Lee and Nicole Wagon.
“Thank you all for sharing your voice to speak on behalf of others,” Wagon said as the event wrapped up. “It’s really hard for families to get on up and speak out because it is very emotional, it is very painful. But together we are going to get stronger. Together we are going to make a difference for our loved ones, make it better for our children, make it a safe place for the next generations.”