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State marks Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day

people marching on a road carrying signs referencing Missing and Murdered Indigenous People, saying things like "We Will Never Forget" and "No More Stolen Sisters"
Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio
Hundreds of people marched in downtown Grand Rapids Friday for the city's second annual event honoring Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day.

Michigan officials named Friday “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day.”

The declaration is part of a national movement to raise awareness of the prevalence of murder, sexual violence and human trafficking indigenous communities deal with.

Lorna Elliott-Egan is the director of tribal government services and policy within the state health department. She said law enforcement, state and tribal organizations need to work together to address the problem.

“It’s been an unaddressed problem for a long time, and it’s time to start giving this attention and looking for a way to help tribal partners in a good way to protect their citizens who go missing or are murdered.”

Elliott-Egan said she hopes residents take the day as an opportunity to show support for tribal communities around Michigan.

She attended an event Friday with Gail Krieger, who is the director of operations at the Division of Victims Services within the state health department.

Krieger said the state has resources to help.

“We provide funding to a number of tribes to work across victimization to provide services and support to victims of crime that work on these issues. So, that’s a way that we’ve definitely been investing, and we’ve been investing for years in those communities providing that kind of service,” Krieger said.

The governor and U.S. attorneys for the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan also marked the day with announcements and proclamations.

One new update brought the announcement of a coordinator within the U.S. Justice Department to help Michigan tribes with the matter as well.

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