Houston: No more stolen sisters

Houston

Across the United States and Canada, May 5 is set aside as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Day to commemorate and educate. Every year, individuals wear red, and attend marches, rallies, bike rides, fundraisers and more, to raise awareness of the MMIW cause and fight against the injustice happening to Native women and their families every day.

WW Photo: Gloria Rubac

In Houston, the South East Texas Brown Berets held two rallies and a march through the predominantly Chicano community north of downtown to honor Native people.

Indigenous activist Terry Spoonhunter drummed, prayed and sang songs to open the event. “We were the first people here. We had peace. We believed in nature, in the sun, in the water, in the air we breathe. And we protected this,” he said.

Willie Rodriguez, an organizer for the Berets, told the crowd: “This issue needs to be brought to life; it’s hidden, like many things that happen with Native people. Our own people are out celebrating Cinco de Mayo with alcohol right now instead of coming together in solidarity with things that really matter. So I thank all of you for being here today.”

One of the central organizers of this event, Beret Vio Nat, had a red handprint over her mouth and was holding a red dress. She explained: “The hand print is the symbol of this growing movement and stands for all the missing sisters whose voices are not heard, as well as the silence of the police and the news media. It is mostly non-Natives who attack and kill Indigenous women.

“A progressive event that recently happened was that, in 2013, the Violence Against Women Act was updated to allow Tribal courts to prosecute non-Indigenous offenders.

“Throughout Indian Country, throughout Tribal jurisdictions, and throughout reservations, actions are being held today. It is also called Red Dress Day.”

Nat was holding a large color photo of a young girl and said: “Maria Gonzales was murdered in her home here in Houston last August by someone in her apartment complex. We want to remember her as she was only 11 years old and was from Guatemala.”

Sylina Mustang spoke on how important the issue of Indigenous women and girls is: “We are honoring the women, girls, and men. There’s not enough media attention on this.” Mustang was wearing a red T-shirt with a photo of Luis Jr. Martinez, a leader of the Chicano activist group of the 1960s and ‘70’s, the Crusade for Justice, based in Denver. She told Workers World: “Martinez was also a victim of murder 50 years ago. He was another person whose death wasn’t given the attention it deserved.”

WW Photo: Gloria Rubec

Also speaking were representatives of Workers World Party and Party for Socialism and Liberation. Jesus Sanchez, with PSL, said; “Israel caused much destruction in Central America in the 1980’s, especially toward Indigenous tribes such as the Mayan population in Guatemala. Along with the U.S., they trained forces in the genocide of the Mayans under the Ríos Montt regime.”

Speaking for Workers World Party, this writer stated: “Look at the photo of this beautiful 11-year-old girl from Guatemala. We must understand why she and her family were even here in Houston. It is because of U.S. imperialism destroying the economies and overthrowing the leadership of Central American countries that people are forced to leave their homes.

“It is the U.S. that is responsible for little Maria’s death. She and her family should never have been forced to be here.”

Gloria Rubac

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Gloria Rubac

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