(Riverton, WY) Telling the stories and bringing awareness to the issue of missing and murdered Native Americans is the focus of the MMIP Wind River’s March for Justice slated for Saturday, May 6, with a gathering at the top of Main Street and a rally at Riverton City Park.
“It’s important to stand and bring awareness for the many families that this has happened to because we’re their voices now,” said MMIP Wind River Coordinator Nicole Wagon. “I’m one of the fortunate ones…my eldest daughter is receiving justice at this time because her case is currently in the courts, but I’m still working on my other daughter’s case. I’ve not given up hope that others can find their loved ones and they may receive justice as well.”
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) is a part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) that investigates unsolved missing and murdered cases in Indian Country. Wagon is on the Wyoming MMIP Task Force, a division of Victim Services. The stories of her daughters, Jocelyn Watt and Jade Wagon, are featured in “Who She Is,” a documentary film produced by Caldera Productions.
Wagon hopes that MMIP families and friends will come to the march/rally and share their stories in order to bring light to the victims, and draw attention to the cause. “The stories make it real,” she said. “Indigenous people haven’t received the kind of media compared to a lot of other cases across the nation. They’re not just statistics; they’re not just numbers. They have names. They have stories. They had a journey. Their lives counted and mattered.”
On the morning of the march, all will gather in the FCSD #25 parking lot at 9:45 a.m. The march will ensue down Main Street at 10:00 a.m. with a police escort and rally at the bandshell in Riverton City Park. All are welcome to wear red, bring signs, decorate a vehicle, and join both the march and attend the rally. “We also welcome all dancers and drummers to join us,” Wagon said. MMIP families are encouraged to bring photos of their loved ones and tell their stories at the rally.
Even after the event, Wagon’s vision for MMIP Wind River is to continue healing by establishing monthly support group meetings. “Telling the stories helps in taking one step more towards healing,” she said. “You’re getting stronger, and not falling into ‘justice sorrow’ or the grief of what the families go through. When people say ‘Oh, you’re getting justice, now you can move on,’ what does that mean? What is healing? Our wounds will always be there. It’s about having the support to move forward.”
MMIP Talking Circles would enable families to discuss their experiences. “Every holiday, there are triggers,” Wagon continued. “There are songs, there are certain moments and memories that make the family hurt and miss their loved ones. Together, we can feel each others’ pain and have a mutual understanding. You’re not alone in this battle.”
For more information about MMIP Wind River, visit their website at MMIPWindRiver.org.