MMIR Red Regalia Project



Please read the entire description of this event on our website to understand your commitment to this project.

MMIR Red Regalia Project Descripton:

This Native American House-led project is supported by the Native North American artist-in-residency program, coordinated by a consortium including Allerton Park, American Indian Studies, the School of Art & Design, Humanities Research Institute, Krannert Art Museum, and the Native American House. This one-week residency will involve Chicago-based Native artist Angel Starr (Arikara/Omaha/Odawa), who will facilitate a series of red regalia workshops where participants will create red ribbon skirts and red ribbon shirts. The red regalia will be used in the annual creation of campus-based exhibitions to call attention to violence against Indigenous Peoples.

To begin building your foundation for understanding MMIR, please click on the link here and scroll down to the MMIR Syllabus for a detailed history surrounding MMIR.

Details for 2024 MMIR Red Regalia Project:

Participants will have access to sewing machines. Supplies and materials will be provided, as well as encouragement, patience, and lots of love!

Location of Program: School of Art & Design (408 E. Peabody Dr., Champaign), Room 9 (basement)

Participation Options

  • Regalia Maker: Actively engage in the making of red ribbon skirts and ribbon shirts. Regalia makers will make at least one red ribbon skirt and/or ribbon shirt to donate as a permanent piece for the Native American House Collection. No sewing experience is necessary, but a willingness to learn is required.
  • Helper/Witness: Assist regalia makers by running supplies, gathering needed materials, light cleaning, and other tasks. If you are talented in sewing or fabric manipulation and do not come from a community that practices ribbon regalia making, please consider this role, as you could greatly assist those who need help and tips. All are also welcome to observe this Indigenous modality-making process, which is vital in showing support and allyship to Indigenous Peoples.

You may register for this project here. Your participation is invaluable in honoring and raising awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous relatives.

For questions or to request disability-related accommodations, please contact David Eby at or the director of the Native American House, Dr. Charlotte Davidson, at

MMIR Syllabus

What is MMIR?



  • The MMIR (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives) and originally called MMIW [Women] crisis is a national crime pattern of disproportionate murder and missing cases of Indigenous peoples in the United States that has been ongoing for centuries. The crisis is a result of the failure of the United States to protect Indigenous relatives, paired with the lack of resources for Tribes to provide justice and victim services.  

  • The crisis is also due to the failure of local, state, and federal responses to these crimes. The quality of life of any nation's citizens is bound to their respective governments' authority and resources to create stable and safe communities. In the specific context of Native relatives, the original protections and concept of safety have deteriorated over five centuries of U.S. colonial Indian law and policies reflected in the current spectrum of violence and the crisis of MMIR. The essential reforms required to address violence against Native women are more complicated than increased training and resources under federal reforms such as VAWA. To address violence against Native relatives at a foundational level requires a deep dive to understand and repeal or amend previous colonial-era laws. 

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Key Terms and Concepts

  • MMIR (MMIW, MMIW2S+): The crisis, referred to as MMIR (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives) and MMIW/MMIW2S+, extends beyond individual acts of violence to Native peoples to encompass and highlight the broader spectrum of systemic issues stemming from historical colonization and ongoing legal and policy failures that affect Indigenous peoples. 

  • Intersectionality: Understanding MMIW requires an intersectional lens that considers how factors such as race, gender, and colonial history intersect to exacerbate violence against Indigenous women. Intersectional Feminism was officially developed as a critical study lens by Kimberlé Crenshaw (1991). 

  • Systemic Racism: The policies and laws that have historically undermined tribal authority and failed to protect Native women are rooted in systemic racism. This racism is evident in the consistent failure of the U.S. government to protect Indigenous peoples and their lands adequately. 

  • Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010: “The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 is a law, signed into effect by President Obama, that expands the punitive abilities of tribal courts across the nation. The law allows tribal courts operating in Indian country to increase jail sentences handed down in criminal cases. This was a major step toward improving enforcement and justice in Indian Country. Before this law, tribal courts were limited in the scope of punishment they could hand down in criminal cases, giving them the impression of a lower, less serious court. They now possess the power under the Tribal Law and Order Act to pass increased sentences at the court's discretion.” Wikipedia 

  • The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): “creates and supports comprehensive, cost-effective responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. Since its enactment in 1994, VAWA programs, administered by the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS), have dramatically improved federal, tribal, state, and local responses to these crimes. The 2013 Reauthorization attempted to shed Justice and safety for Native American women. Native American victims of domestic violence often cannot seek justice because their courts are not allowed to prosecute non-Native offenders — even for crimes committed on Tribal land. This major gap in justice, safety, and violence prevention was addressed. VAWA 2013 includes a solution that would give Tribal courts the authority they need to hold offenders in their communities accountable.” National Network to End Domestic Violence 

Brief History


Lisa Brunner (White Earth Ojibwe Nation) and executive director of Sacred Spirits First National Coalition, states:  


“What's happened through US Federal law and policy is they created lands of impunity where this is like a playground for serial rapists, batterers, killers, whoever, and our children aren't protected at all.” 


  • The MMIW crisis is deeply rooted in the history of U.S. colonization, racism, and sexual objectification of Indigenous women and children. The deterioration of the quality of life for Indigenous communities is a direct result of colonization, and it's crucial to understand how this has contributed to the MMIW crisis. 

  • Colonization involved the violent invasion of Indigenous lands, leading to the displacement and oppression of Indigenous peoples. This process not only resulted in the theft of land but also the theft of Indigenous culture. The loss of land and culture, coupled with the imposition of foreign laws and policies, led to a significant reduction in the authority of Indigenous nations. This loss of authority undermined the ability of these nations to create stable and safe communities, which is a key factor in the quality of life for any society. 

  • Quality of life within Indigenous communities is not just about material conditions but also about the erosion of cultural safety and the ability to live according to Indigenous values and practices. This erosion has been a result of five centuries of U.S. colonial Indian law and policies. The original protections and concept of safety for Native women have deteriorated over this period, leading to a spectrum of violence that brings the MMIW crisis to the forefront. 

  • The MMIW crisis is not just about individual acts of violence but is also about the social conditions that allow such violence to occur. Federal colonial policies and laws have shaped these conditions. The crisis reflects systemic disparities that deny Indigenous women safety and justice, generation after generation. These disparities are a direct result of the deteriorated quality of life caused by colonization. 

  • Addressing the MMIW crisis requires more than just dealing with individual acts of violence. It requires reforms to the foundational set of laws and policies that have created the social conditions for violence. It also involves supporting Indigenous peoples to reclaim the land, culture, language, community, family, history, and traditions that were taken away during the process of colonization.

  • On-going struggles that continue the pattern of structural violence (Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women): 

    • Jurisdictional barriers– Federal, State, County, Tribal, Private 

    • Who stewards what land with enforcement of what laws? Can non-Native people be charged by Tribal law?  

    • Lack of – Emergency Services, Amber Alerts, Counseling, Family Services 

    • Lack of funding for public safety and health 

    • Negative social stigma toward counseling services 

    • Distrust in healthcare from Native communities 

    • Relationships between governing entities 

    • FBI and Tribal Communication 

    • State and Tribal Communication 

    • Overall Community Awareness 

    • Awareness campaigns not highlighted by the media. 

    • Murders are not collectively seen as crises in media, perpetuating a one-off occurrence attitude. 

Legislation and Legal Happenings


There is a need for systemic reforms in addressing the MMIR crisis. Advocacy efforts, such as in publications from the Urban Indian Health Institute, highlighted the need for improved data collection and tracking, enhanced cooperation between law enforcement agencies, and more accurate media coverage. These reforms are vital to ensure the safety and justice for Indigenous women and girls, especially in urban American Indian and Alaska Native communities. 


The following list of government and law-related events is adapted from the University of New Mexico Libraries: 


Not Invisible Act Commission Transmits Recommendations to Federal Government 

  • The Not Invisible Act Commission has submitted crucial recommendations to address the crisis of violence, including murder and trafficking, against Indigenous people in the U.S. The commission, formed under the Not Invisible Act, includes diverse stakeholders, and its recommendations focus on enhancing federal responses to combat these issues effectively. The Departments of the Interior and Justice, along with Congress, will respond to these recommendations, reflecting the commitment of the Biden-Harris administration to prioritize public safety and justice for Indigenous communities. 

Missing & Murdered Unit (MMU) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) 

  • The Missing & Murdered Unit (MMU) was established by Secretary Deb Haaland within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to intensify efforts in addressing the crisis of missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives. This unit will streamline federal investigations and strengthen interagency coordination. It builds on the foundations laid by Operation Lady Justice, enhancing resource allocation and stakeholder engagement to prevent unresolved cases from stagnating. 
  • The MMU's role extends beyond reviewing cold cases; it collaborates actively with tribal and federal investigators on ongoing cases. It will also forge partnerships with agencies like the FBI and the Department of Justice, enhancing systems like NamUs for better data analysis and coordination. This all-encompassing approach underlines the Department's commitment to supporting tribal communities and addressing these critical investigations comprehensively. 

Not Invisible Act Commission 

  • The Department of the Interior, led by Secretary Deb Haaland, recognized the critical issue of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native people. Efforts to address this have been hindered by inadequate urgency, transparency, and coordination. The Not Invisible Act of 2019, introduced and passed by congressional members from federally recognized Tribes, aims to tackle the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples. The Act's implementation involves a cross-jurisdictional advisory committee, the Not Invisible Act Commission, focusing on improving law enforcement coordination, supporting survivors and victims' families, and addressing human trafficking and murder within Indigenous communities. 
  • “Among its mission, the Commission will: 
    • Identify, report and respond to instances of missing and murdered Indigenous peoples (MMIP) cases and human trafficking, 
    • Develop legislative and administrative changes necessary to use federal programs, properties, and resources to combat the crisis,  

    • Track and report data on MMIP and human trafficking cases,  

    • Consider issues related to the hiring and retention of law enforcement offices,  

    • Coordinate Tribal-state-federal resources to combat MMIP and human trafficking offices on Indian lands, and    

    • Increase information sharing with Tribal governments on violent crimes investigations and other prosecutions on Indian lands.”  

(Department of Interior, 2021) 

Executive Order on Improving Public Safety and Criminal Justice for Native Americans and Addressing the Crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous People 

  • The executive order by President Biden acknowledges the high levels of violence against Native Americans, particularly the crisis of missing or murdered Indigenous people. It mandates a robust federal strategy involving various departments to address these issues, focusing on improved law enforcement, data collection, and support services. The policy emphasizes collaboration with Tribal Nations and community engagement. However, the critical challenge lies in transforming these commitments into effective, tangible actions that bring about significant and lasting change for Native American communities. Signed November 15, 2021. 

Not Invisible Act of 2019, H.R. 2438 

  • The Not Invisible Act establishes a new role within the Interior Department focused on addressing the disproportionately high rates of murder, rape, and violent crime in Native American communities. It also forms a joint advisory committee between the Interior and Justice Departments. The act, strongly supported by Native American Representatives in Congress, became law in 2020, reflecting a significant step toward addressing the crisis of missing and trafficked Native Americans. 

S.1942 - Savanna's Act 

  • This bill requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to update the onlinise data entry format for federal databases relevant to cases of missing and murdered Indians to include a new data field for users to input the victim's tribal enrollment information or affiliation. 

H.R.2029 - Studying the Missing and Murdered Indian Crisis Act of 2019 

  • A bill to direct the Comptroller General of the United States to submit a report on the response of law enforcement agencies to reports of missing or murdered Indians. 

S.227 - Savanna's Act 

  • This bill directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review, revise, and develop law enforcement and justice protocols to address missing and murdered Indians. 

H.R.1585 - Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 

  • An act to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and for other purposes. 



“Woman is the center of the wheel of life. She is the heartbeat of the people. She is not just in the home, but she is the community, she is the Nation, one of our Grandmothers. The woman is the foundation on which Nations are built. She is the heart of her Nation. If that heart is weak the people are weak. If her heart is strong and her mind is clear, then the Nation is strong and knows its purpose. The woman is the center of everything.”

The Woman's Part by Art Solomon (Ojibwe)


Notable Cases and Investigations (

Amy Lynn Hanson 

  • “In 2014, Amy Lynn Hanson, a Dine’ woman who was attending UNM-Gallup, went to visit her friends on Thanksgiving. That was the last time her family saw her alive, although Amy called her sister the next morning to invite her to go shopping in Farmington, NM. Amy had replied, “No, I think I’m going to go with my friends.” That was one of the last times Amy called home. When UNM exam week arrived, Christy knew something was wrong when she did not hear from her. In disbelief, Christy and their mother reported Amy missing to state police on December 8th. After an agonizing wait, authorities contacted Amy’s sister at work. A Native woman’s body had been found dumped in an arroyo south of Gallup, NM on December 17, 2014. It was Amy. She still has not received justice.” 

Sherry Ann 

  • “Sherry Ann Wounded Foot was from Porcupine on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Sherry Ann was found hurt and dying in White Clay, Nebraska on 8-17-2016. She passed away a couple of days later. Her son and brother were also killed in that town and Sherry’s death was instrumental in the closing down of all liquor related business in that town. She is survived by her daughter Sandi. She was a loving mother; Tough and strong, she passed that on to others. Sherry Ann still has not received justice.” 

Further links and resources:


Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls #MMIWG | NIWRC. (n.d.). Retrieved December 18, 2023, from 

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). (n.d.). Retrieved December 18, 2023, from 

MMIW. (n.d.-a). Native Women's Wilderness. Retrieved December 18, 2023, from 

MMIW Crisis | U.S. Department of the Interior. (2019, September 13). [Site page]. 

MMIW: Understanding the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Crisis Beyond Individual Acts of Violence | NIWRC. (n.d.-b). Retrieved December 18, 2023, from