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Community looks for solutions on day of awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People

Posted at 6:20 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 21:34:15-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A proclamation by the White House declared today Missing and Murdered Indigenous Person Awareness Day.

It's an issue that hits home for Kristina Groves, the Co-Acting Executive Director of the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake City.

"I had a family member last year who was murdered," said Groves.

Which is why Groves says this day of awareness is extremely important.

"Indigenous women go missing or murdered at higher rates than almost any other, you know, group in our population," said Groves.

It is a sentiment echoed by others. Carl Moore Jr. is the founder of Pandos, which stands for peaceful advocates for native dialogue and organizing support. Moore has deep Native American roots, his father is Hopi and his mother his half Chemehuevi.

"I mean we have indigenous relatives that go missing and we don't have the amount of press coverage for those things," said Moore.

Utah Democratic Representative Angela Romero has spearheaded efforts to bring this issue to the forefront.

"It's an epidemic and it's something that has been going on for a long time," said Romero.

In 2020, Representative Romero started a task force, aimed at look at missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. This year, in the legislative session, she took it a step further.

"I asked for more money to do a research project, a research study on missing and murdered indigenous people and my colleagues supported that effort, so I got $130,000 in one time funding," said Romero.

It's something those in indigenous community's hope will help tackle this issue.

"We want to figure out what to do as a community to, you know, take care of this problem," said Groves.

Thursday night, several members of the community gathered at the Carrying the Water Garden in Salt Lake City.  The garden serves as an Indigenous healing garden.

The event began with a meal for those who turned out.  A short program followed where a new mural was unveiled, as well as a prayer and candlelight vigil.