ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico mother is creating a series of photos to raise awareness for a problem she too, has been personally affected by: missing and murdered indigenous women.
“Other people are going through this just as I have,” Meredith Lee-Mike.
Lee-Mike took the photos that show three young Native American women with red handprints over their mouths.
“By covering their mouth, they can’t speak, they can’t give out the message or let people know this is what happened to them,” said Lee-Mike.
The stories of missing or murdered indigenous women often cannot be told, but taking these photos inspired Lee-Mike to share her own story.
“One of my daughters, she went missing in Albuquerque,” said Lee-Mike.
Lee-Mike’s daughter was missing for two weeks but was found. Many others never are.
“We know that native women are impacted by violence at rates that far exceed other communities of color,” said Angel Charley, the Acting Director for the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native American Woman.
Charley says 4 out of 5 Native American women will experience violence in their lives and are 10 times more likely to be murdered.
“There is such a lack of coordination and collaboration between the systems that already exist,” said Charley.
Charley says they are now getting help at the federal and state level. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill this year to determine what may be hindering law enforcement investigations in these cases.
“Absolutely encouraging. This is momentum,” said Charley, adding that grassroots movements, like these photos, are important too.
“Powerful, right? These are very powerful images,” said Charley.
Lee-Mike says taking them, is helping her in more ways than one.
“I think it will help me not only send the message but also help me heal inside,” said Lee-Mike.
Lee-Mike says she plans on holding several more photo sessions like these, to continue raising awareness.