In 2016 alone, more than 5,000 Native American and Alaska Native women and girls were reported missing. Unfortunately, experts believe that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In a March 19 article, Smithsonian.com reports that one artist is making a bold statement to draw more attention to this plague of violence against indigenous women.
Manitoba-based Métis artist Jaime Black‘s REDress Project is now mounted on the plaza in front of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. The 35 dresses symbolize the thousands of native women who are abducted or murdered each year.
The REDress Project will be up through the month of March in honor of Women’s History Month, and the museum will host a symposium on murdered and missing indigenous women on March 21, featuring an all-female panel of experts.
Machel Monenerkit, the museum’s deputy director, hopes the installation inspires viewers to ask questions. “Art transforms, and definitely transcends, and moves our perspectives of how we face a tragedy,” Monenerkit says in the story.
The artwork has already caught the attention of some powerful people. At a House of Representatives hearing on the issue last week, New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland—one of the first Native American women elected to Congress—wore red. “I’m wearing red today in honor of missing and murdered indigenous women,” said Haaland. “Indigenous women deserve to be protected just like anyone else in this country.”
Read more at Smithsonan.com.