Dawson Community College Athletics’ Department is raising awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls by asking the crowd to wear red for the Sunday, Feb. 26 women’s and men’s basketball games vs. Miles Community College. DCC will also be recognizing their sophomore basketball players. The games will begin at 2 and 4 p.m.
DCC’s Athletic Director Joe Peterson has personally invited Ft. Peck Reservation High School basketball coaches and athletic directors to the games on Sunday. They will receive free admission, along with any of their players who attend. Prior to the women’s game, DCC’s Enrollment team and student ambassadors will also give a campus tour to these individuals, followed by a brief information session.
They will meet at 1 p.m. in the Toepke Center Lobby.
If you are unfamiliar with MMIP/MMIWG, you may wonder “why red?” The StrongHearts Native Helpline website provides a poignant meaning for this symbolic color, “It has been said that red is a color that transcends the physical world and calls to the ancestors in the spirit world. For ceremony and pow-wow, Native Americans dressed their children in red as an introduction to the ancestors — calling upon them as guardians to the young. However, the color red had other uses and symbolic meanings that differ among Indigenous tribes in North America. It has been used by the young warrior painting his face and his horse, it has also been used to beautify the faces of young women and their clothing. Today, the role of red is being used to call attention to the invisible — missing and murdered.”
Currently, there are 180 cases of missing and unsolved murders of Indigenous women in Montana and according to the State Department of Justice report, indigenous people in Montana are four times more likely to go missing than non-Native people. Furthermore, Native Americans make up 6.7% of the total population in Montana yet they also total 31% of the missing persons in Montana. The statistics paint a grim picture and it is more important than ever to bring attention to this issue.
“One of the most effective ways that we can play a positive role in the MMIP/MMIWG issue is to be aware that it is a major issue and to learn ways we can be supportive to the individuals, families and communities affected,” said DCC Athletic Director and Head Men’s Basketball Coach Joe Peterson. “We can’t just sit back and ignore it. Something has to be done.”
The number of Native Americans enrolled at DCC has risen over the years and currently makes up 3.5% of the school’s total enrollment. There are 16 American Indian/Native Alaska students. On the basketball teams alone, there are nine Native American student athletes. This cause hits very close to home on DCC’s campus and in the larger community.
“I think that the MMIP/MMIWG awareness night means a lot especially for us Native Americans that go (to college) here. I think even sometimes on our own reservation we hardly get the attention on this issue, so it means a lot for sure,” Damon Gros Ventre, DCC student and men’s basketball freshmen, said.
“It helps spread awareness to all the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women/People and their families,” DCC freshman basketball player Evelyn Old Coyote said about the MMIP/MMIWG games. “It’s sad to say that Native American Indians are like an “unknown race” to the white society, even though they’re on our land. This topic isn’t easy to talk about but honestly the white society could care less if “just another Indian” went missing or was murdered. That “Indian” they refer to is just as human as them. With this event coming up, it will hopefully spread more awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women/People. I appreciate my teammates and the new family I’ve made here at DCC for standing behind this awareness.”