Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women Billboard Campaign Comes To Riverton

Aug 20, 2019

Earlier this month, a billboard was posted in Casper to highlight the high rates of violence and abuse perpetrated against Indigenous women. Now, you'll see the same billboard on the corner of East Main and Federal Street in downtown Riverton.

The billboard says "Invisible No More" and that 5,712 Native women were murdered or went missing in 2016. It shows a Native women with a red handprint across her mouth.

"This is an issue that we all should be concerned about," Northern Arapaho Tribal member Lynnette Grey Bull said at a gathering to honor the new billboard. "We're all responsible for any social ills, any crime against any person."

Credit Global Indigenous Council

Grey Bull is vice president of the Global Indigenous Council, which helped organize the campaign that brought the same billboard to seven other states including Arizona, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Montana.

Saturday's gathering featured honor songs, speeches from Wind River community members, and a Hoop Dance performance from 15-year-old Eastern Shoshone tribal member Amya Whelan. Whelan explained that the Hoop Dance, in which dancers use a set of colorful hoops to create different shapes and designs, is a healing dance.

"[While I'm dancing] I'm thinking about all the girls or women that were murdered or went missing over the years and just praying that it stops, and that people see that we're trying to make awareness about it," Whelan said.

Northern Arapaho Tribal member Letara Lebeau is a member of the advocacy group Not Our Native Daughters. She said she brought her children to the event to show them that people are working to change the grim statistics about violence against Native people.

"I have two daughters. I don't want them and my son to ever feel like they don't have a safety net, to ever feel vulnerable," Lebeau said. "Because when you're put in the mindset of 'you're Native American,' we want that to be inspirational."

Around 30 people attended Saturday morning's event. Many wore red clothing, a symbol to honor Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and their loved ones.