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MMIP awareness walk at Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe reservation remembers Indigenous loved ones

Dozens of people gathered at the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe reservation for the third annual missing and murdered Indigenous peoples awareness and solidarity walk on Friday.

Tribal community members of all ages, many wearing red, drummed, sang, and marched while holding banners or posters with photos of their loved ones who have died or are currently missing.

This includes Elena Harris, who hasn’t seen her adult son, Jacob Narcho, in 10 months.

“Not knowing if he’s dead or alive, it keeps me up,” Harris said.

Rates of murder and violent crimes against Indigenous people are higher than the national average. Jolyne Sander, the victim services counselor for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, said the movement is also about justice being served in a timely manner. Her daughter was killed in a domestic violence homicide.

“Justice has been served. She was seven months pregnant at the time, so we also lost the baby. She left behind three children,” Sander said. “I just think it’s important for people to understand a lot is about the justice system, and how when you’re on the reservation and things happen, how that process takes so much longer because of the jurisdictional issues.”

The walk was organized by Victim Services, Great Basin Indigenous Women Rising, and the Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitor Center, where the event ended. Billie Jean Guerrero, the museum director explained why the walk is important.

Guerrero smiles for a photo indoors. In the background there are exhibits and banners hanging from the ceiling including one that reads, “No more stolen sisters.”
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
Billie Jean Guerrero, the Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitor Center museum director and one of the co-organizers of the missing and murdered Indigenous peoples awareness walk on May 3, 2024, at the museum in Nixon, Nev., on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe reservation.

“It’s healing for our community to recognize that we are in a crisis situation, to bring more awareness for our young people, especially to be careful when they’re out in the public, remember those who have gone on, and to heal from that loss, because we all feel it as a community,” Guerrero said.

Guerrero would also like to see more accountability.

“That’s one of the main things here at Pyramid Lake is that we have people that have been murdered, and their cases aren’t even moving forward,” Guerrero said. “It’s very harmful to our community because it’s like a big slap in the face that, already a crime has been committed, and there’ll be more crimes to happen without consequence.”

Inside the museum, there’s information about the missing and murdered Indigenous women’s movement. Visitors can learn about the symbolic red hand over the mouth representing women whose voices are not heard.

“We receive a lot of visitors that come from all over the world, so we want to be able to showcase other things that are going on to spark an interest where they can research themselves. It isn't just about doing a march once a year, it’s a continual effort to educate people,” Guerrero said.

National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Awareness Day was on May 5.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.
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