Editor’s note: This post was originally published on the ELCA Racial Justice blog.

May 5 is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s (MMIW) Awareness Day.

In 2021, as a follow-up to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly’s repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery in 2016, the ELCA Church Council adopted “A Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to American Indian and Alaska Native People.” It reads, in part, “We commit to advocacy for and being in solidarity with Tribal Nations, MMIWGR organizations, families, and friends who have gone missing or who have been murdered.

“Indigenous women and girls go missing at a much higher rate than any other group in the United States. Indigenous men also disappear at a higher rate than other males. There are 2 foci in this commitment. One is advocacy. Tribes, states, and the US government can and should pass legislation to coordinate work to alleviate the problem. The second focus is relational. Synod leaders can establish relationships with Tribal Nations, express solidarity, help with prevention, with search and rescue, with comforting the anxious and bereaved. Congregations can, as well.”

How congregations can honor MMIW Awareness Day

  1. Wear red (T-shirts available from the ELCA) and take photos. Use social media to raise awareness. Use the hashtags #MMIW, #NoMoreStolenSisters, #TruthandHealing and #ELCA.
  2. Organize a prayer vigil (using this resource).
  3. Include missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and relatives (MMIWGR) in the prayers for the day.
  4. Say the names of MMIWGR—this would be especially meaningful if your congregation did the research to identify locally or regionally specific MMIWGR—and light candles for them during worship.
  5. Invite (and compensate) a local Indigenous expert to share on this topic as part of your educational time.
  6. Invite (and compensate) local Indigenous musicians to play and sing during worship.

Additional resources

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