San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Native Resource Center holds vigil ceremony for missing, murdered Indigenous people

To bring awareness, the NRC brought to an issue impacting Indigenous communities
Maya Martinez
A tipi was set up in front of Hepner Hall to honor missing and murdered indigenous women during the Feb. 14 ceremony.

San Diego State University’s Native Resource Center (NRC) hosted the Way of the Sacred Mountain organization at Hepner Hall to raise awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women, children and relatives on Feb. 14. 

Joined by Baja Kumiai Birdsingers, Way of the Sacred Mountain is an organization that seeks to raise awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous individuals. 

The Baja Kumiai Birdsingers, in charge of carrying on history through song and dance, were joined at the ceremony by the Red Warrior Drum performers who graced the occasion. 

Three tipis were set up on the grass outside of Hepner Hall in honor of missing Indigenous lives. 

Handprints of family members with missing relatives were painted on the side of the tipi along with their names. Altars are also set up at the entrance of the tipis, including Stormy the Bear, a symbol of protection and remembrance for missing Indigenous children.  

Sage was also lit by Teyana Visccara, a representative with Way of the Sacred Mountain, and was passed around to those attending the event to cleanse any negative energy. 

The event was held to honor the first-ever awareness ceremony that was held 33 years ago. 

Many activist groups across the nation hold Women’s Memorial Marches to bring awareness to this issue. May 5 is recognized as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Day. In support, people are encouraged to wear red on that day. 

There is no accurate count of the number of Indigenous people who are missing. However, in 2016 alone the National Crime Information Center received 5,712 reported cases of missing Indigenous women and children. 

“We are here because our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces [and] even our brothers are going missing and getting murdered,” member of the Way of the Scared Mountain Tim Red Bird said. 

Many said that it is important for the Indigenous people to get the message out that their family members are disappearing at alarming rates. 

“Women are life givers, knowledge keepers [and are] the ones to guide those fighting for the tribe before battle,” said Teyana Viscarra, representative and organizer for the Sacred Way of the Mountain. 

Indigenous women hold very important roles within the tribe. For the Southern Kumiai tribe — who were in attendance at the event — the women are the Birdsingers. Many see the hardships the women face as direct spiritual violence. 

During the ceremony, two members of the Southern Kumiai Birdsingers came forward in honor of their missing family members. 

Both women painted their hands white, placing the handprint on the tipi and writing the name of their missing loved one alongside it. They then asked the crowd to come together in prayer for the safe return of their loved ones. 

“This is getting closer and closer to our families and our homes,” said Martha Rodriguez, Kumiai Birdsinger and special guest. 

In a statement released by the Native Resource Center, they stated that Indigenous women and girls are far more likely to experience violence, be murdered or go missing than any other demographic. 

Through this program and many others, the NRC aims to bring awareness in hopes of attracting enough attention to incite action. For more information on the Native Resource Center, visit their website