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Tribal Affairs

Demonstrators march in Billings for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons event

MMIP march Signs.jpg
Kayla Desroches
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
Families and friends of missing and murdered line up in front of the stage during Sunday's march in Billings.

Demonstrators gathered in downtown Billings this weekend to raise awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons.

The event, organized by women’s rights groups Zonta International and the Montana Native Women’s Coalition, was the first in-person MMIP march in Billings since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MMIP march dancers.jpg
Kayla Desroches
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
Women and girls perform the healing Jingle Dance at the end of speeches.

Coalition executive director Jean Bearcrane credited grassroots efforts for bringing attention to the movement.

“They are the friends and then the family of the people who are murdered and missing and without them, and so without them, no change could happen,” she said.

Speeches followed a three-block walk and included Crow tribal member and state Rep. Sharon Peregoy. The Democrat from Crow Agency has been active in drafting state legislation around the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons movement and called for more education on the state, tribal and federal levels.

MMIP march Peregoy.jpg
Kayla Desroches
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
Democratic state representative and Crow tribal member Sharon Peregoy of Crow Agency speaks to the crowd during Sunday's event in Billings.

“It’s a Montana problem, and it’s time we begin to handle it as such,” Peregoy said.

A 2020 report from the Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force shows that Native Americans make up roughly a quarter of missing people in Montana despite representing 6.6% of the state’s population.