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New Indigenous Women's March aims to end violence in all forms

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Darcy Menard ties a scarf with the word
Darcy Menard, ties a scarf with the word "justice" around her head before the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples March held Feb. 14, 2019. Members of the Twin Cities' Native American community will march in Minneapolis Saturday to honor indigenous women and empower all survivors of harassment, violence and oppression.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Members of the Twin Cities' Native American community will march in Minneapolis on Saturday to honor indigenous women as well as empower all survivors of harassment, violence and oppression.

Jase Roe, an organizer of the event, says it was inspired in part by women's contributions in helping people at the Franklin Hiawatha homeless encampment, dubbed "The Wall of Forgotten Natives."

"I was inspired by women, up at the Wall and at the Navigation Center because they're the ones actually out there, talking to the people and finding them housing, and working every day, endlessly, to get them the resources they need," Roe said, who added that some of those same women experienced harassment while working in the encampment.

Native American women are disproportionately likely to be the victims of violence, abduction, and murder — a grim fact which has gained wider attention through the missing and murdered indigenous women awareness campaign.

Margarita Ortega, another organizer of the new march, says they hope to capitalize on success of that campaign while expanding its focus to include oppression in all its forms.

"We would like to show that we as a community are united against violence against all forms," Ortega said.

The march, which organizers said also will honor two-spirit people — including members of the LGBTQ community — begins with a blessing and prayer at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center in Minneapolis' Phillips neighborhood. There will be several indigenous women speakers who are either survivors of violence or work with women who are survivors. 

It ends at Little Earth of United Tribes in time for the start to their Mother's Day Powwow. It's the first year for the march, and organizers said they hope it will become an annual event.