(Riverton, WY) A short film documentary about an indigenous women’s motorcycle group riding for the cause of missing and murdered indigenous women will be presented in a special screening on Monday, July 31 in the Spring Mountain Room at the Wind River Hotel & Casino.
A part of the Ride. Reel. Reflect. Respond. community tour, “We Ride for Her” is about the riders who participate in the Medicine Wheel Ride, bringing awareness and shedding light on the epidemic of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and their relatives. Riverton is one of eight stops of the tour that begins on July 28 in Chandler, Arizona, and ends in Crazy Horse, South Dakota on August 6.
Corinne Tuma of the Medicine Wheel Riders was present at the last Wyoming MMIP Task Force meeting held on July 17 in Fort Washakie. She was also a guest speaker at the MMIP March that was held in Riverton on May 6. Tuma said that the Medicine Wheel Riders aid in search efforts for the missing Indigenous.
“We’re on motorcycles,” Tuma said. “We go to different reservations…for some of the loved ones that are missing, we try and help out with gas money, lodging, water, drones, four-wheelers, dogs…we’re here to help. What can we do to stop this? What can we do to find their loved ones?”
Leaders and advocates of local organizations who attended July’s Wyoming MMIP Task Force meeting were briefed with a follow-up from their last meeting held in May and entered into more points of discussion on the structure of the Task Force, criminal investigations, a list of cold cases and Investigative Genetic Genealogy, the role of law enforcement agencies, as well as resources and funding for education, research, training, and holding more awareness events. The roles of state-led and tribal-led task forces were also discussed. Washington, Oregon, and Alaska were mentioned as states that have an established MMIP task force model.
“We’ve got the benefit of learning what these other groups are doing,” said Cara Chambers, Director of the Wyoming Division of Victim Services and chair of the Wyoming MMIP Task Force “We’ve got a roadmap from Washington state as to how they organize their task force…there are things we can take away from that as to how the state can help, and we will keep moving forward with that.”
Chambers said that they have the second update report and that they “will keep moving the needle on that,” she said. “If the next phase of the report is only digging down into criminal justice gaps, maybe that’s something we can look into.”
As far as law enforcement, Chambers said that she could talk about the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, Lander PD and Riverton PD, “and that’s it,” she said. “That’s where it gets tricky…the sheriff is an elected person. Lander PD, Riverton PD…those are appointed by the mayors. When we talk about the state, we’re talking about our legislators, elected representatives…we also have to look at those individuals in tribal leadership, the U.S. Attorney’s Office…about what we can do in the world we live in and how to help.”
“What I ask of everybody here is to please stay committed,” said Nicole Wagon, coordinator for the MMIP Wind River Task Force. “I’ve been committed from day one, and when I say
‘day one’, I mean the day I got the call from the Governor’s office. From the day my daughter was murdered, I’ve been committed, and within that history, I lost another daughter, and I’m still committed. To turn this around into a positive and to help others is my goal…”
“This is an epidemic,” Wagon continued. “It affects the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes of this reservation. That’s a fact…and I give a plug for my sisters with the Medicine Wheel Ride for Resilience. They are voices for a loved one.”
For more information about the documentary “We Ride for Her,” visit the website at werideforher.com. For more information about the Medicine Wheel Riders, visit medicinewheelride.org or their Facebook page.
For MMIP Wind River updates, visit MMIPWindRiver.org.