Indigenous Families Seek Support/Understanding in Loss of Loved Ones

Feel there is more urgency when other groups need help

The effort to remember Native American women who have been murdered or are missing was the focus of a community event in Duluth Tuesday.  But the issue of violence affects not only women, but also men and entire families.

Sage Matthews of Duluth still mourns the loss of her niece and nephew who died separately four years ago.  She and others are trying to get the world to understand the grief and shock that comes with such losses.

“It’s a pain that I don’t wish on anyone else,” Matthews said. “It really hurts your soul, and takes a part of your soul with you. Because you’re always wondering, ‘What if? What if I did something different? You know?'” Matthews says uncertainty takes over. “You never know. You always watch behind you. Watch in front of you. Watch 24 [hours a day] around you. You don’t know who’s having a bad day that’s going to want to take you out.”

Matthews says adding to the pain is the feeling in the indigenous community that when those from other cultures die, that law enforcement and community leaders respond more quickly and bring in more resources. She says indigenous people should get the same priority.

“We are human too. We are like everybody else. We’re not monsters or, you know, animals, like they call us ‘creatures.’ We’re not that. We’re just like everybody, you know? There are other people that go missing in other cultures that get found right away. What’s the difference between us? Honestly, what’s the difference between us?” Matthews asked.

Matthews says she does think some progress is being made in terms of seeing the indigenous community differently. Meanwhile, she urges anyone with information about any missing or murdered person to please come forward.



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