Investigating Advocacy Efforts for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls


  • Miranda Askey, Public Policy, University of Delaware

Faculty Mentor(s)

  • Jessica Sowa, Biden Institute, University of Delaware


Throughout American history, Indigenous communities have been subject to human rights abuses at the hands of the government and law enforcement; not much has changed in the 21st century. Indigenous women and girls are at extremely high risk of experiencing violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking. According to the National Institute of Justice in 2016, 84.3 percent of Indigenous women in the U.S. experience violence during their lifetime. Perpetrators of these crimes, who are typically non-Indigenous, rarely face consequences. A myriad of reasons contribute to this fact including the complicated nature of federal, state, and tribal jurisdiction; underfunded tribal police departments and inadequate investigations; underfunded Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities; underreporting by victims who fear and distrust authorities, and more. Women attempting to traverse the complex legal system enter what Amnesty International calls the “maze of injustice”. Many non-profit organizations and social activists have been at the forefront of efforts to raise awareness, advance protection, advertise resources, and increase tribal responses to improve safety for women. Throughout the course of this summer I have sought to examine the history and experiences of Indigenous women and girls in the United States and Canada, as well as investigate the influence of social movements and the nonprofit sector on garnering national awareness and change. This has been possible through conducting a systematic review of pre-existing qualitative and quantitative research from both the U.S. and Canada, gathering evidence from social media and news outlets, as well as looking to non-profit organizations’ websites for information regarding their advocacy efforts and goals.