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Indigenous Community Center’s event series to honor missing, murdered Indigenous people, spread awareness

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A weeklong series of events in Lawrence aim to educate the community about the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people, who are often denied justice. All are invited to participate in solidarity.

Lawrence’s Indigenous Community Center (ICC) is hosting “Actions for Justice Week,” a week dedicated to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit and Trans (MMIWG2ST) people, according to the Facebook event page. ICC last year established a local MMIWG2ST chapter.

Beginning on Friday and lasting through National MMIW Awareness Day, May 5, Action for Justice Week will compound education and commitment to change with art, music, vendors and more. All events are free to attend.

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Actions for Justice Week

Attending these events is a form of solidarity, said Moniqué Mercurio (Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation), ICC co-chair and community coordinator.

Allies planning to attend should be respectful of sacred symbols, like the red-painted hand, which became a cornerstone symbol of the movement for stolen Indigenous women and girls whose voices haven’t been listened to.

The red-painted hand symbol, which is often painted over someone’s mouth, is exclusively a way for Native American individuals to honor their loved ones who have been taken from them, and non-Native people utilizing the symbol are appropriating it, Mercurio said.

ICC is working with several community partners, including B.L.A.C.K. (Black Literature and Arts Collective of Kansas) Lawrence; Haskell Indian Nations University’s Tommaney Library, Student Government Association, and Phi Sigma Nu Fraternity; the University of Kansas’s School of Social Welfare, First Nations Student Association, Indigenous Studies Program, Native Faculty and Staff Council, and Native American Initiatives; and Art Love Collective, according to a flyer on ICC’s Instagram page.

• Final Friday, April 28: Community members are encouraged to attend Final Friday this week and explore an Indigenous artist showcase from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 28 at Art Love Collective, 646 Vermont St.

• Kickoff event on Sunday, April 30: Actions for Justice Week will kick off with a big event on Sunday.

The scheduled speakers include Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez, Kansas Rep. Christina Haswood (Diné), scholar and Haskell professor Jimmy Beason (Osage Nation (Eagle Clan)), and artist Tokeya Waci U Richardson (Oglala Lakota and Haliwa-Saponi Tribes), according to the Instagram post. Flatlanders Pizzeria, Kona Ice and Morning Light Kombucha will sell food and drink at the event.

The event is scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 30 at Art Love Collective, 646 Vermont St. More information on subsequent events will be shared at the kickoff.

• University events on Monday, May 1: KU students, staff and faculty can learn more about MMIWG2ST between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday at Wescoe Beach on campus.

Later in the day, there will be a free self-defense class. That’s set for 6 p.m. at Tecumseh Hall on Haskell’s campus, 155 E. Indian Ave.

• Walk and proclamation on Tuesday, May 2: A solidarity walk will bring community members together to honor and bring awareness to the movement. Participants will hear a MMIWG2ST proclamation and then travel from South Park to City Hall, just short of a mile walk.

The walk and proclamation reading is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 2 at South Park.

The Lawrence City Commission proclamation will follow when the meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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• KU student presentation on Wednesday, May 3: As part of Action Justice Week, KU student Clara Selam (Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation) will present her capstone project on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) movement.

Selam is in her last semester of KU’s Masters of Social Work program, and her presentation is meant to help educate social workers on MMIP, but members of the public are also welcome to attend.

The virtual presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3. Register for the Zoom meeting at this link.

• Documentary screening on Thursday, May 4: Community members are encouraged to attend a free screening of “Who She Is,” a documentary that spotlights four missing Indigenous women from Wind River in Wyoming. KU graduate student and artist Tweesna Rose Mills (Shoshone-Yakama-Umatilla Nations) will also do some singing.

The documentary screening is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, May 4 at Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St.

• National MMIW Awareness Day on Friday, May 5: To honor National MMIW Awareness Day on May 5, everyone is encouraged to wear red.

For questions about Action Justice Week, Mercurio said to contact ICC on social media — Instagram at this link, Facebook at this link, and Twitter at this link — or via the website at indigenouscommunitycenter.com.

Visit the MMIWG2ST page on ICC’s website to learn more about the Lawrence chapter.

Note: This post has been updated from a previous version.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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