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Bringing Awareness to an Issue

Junior Sydney Hallowell’s great grandfather was 100 percent Indigenous, having grown up on a reservation. Her family is from the Omaha tribe in Nebraska, and Sydney says she has always been aware of her culture.  

May 5 was National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Awareness Day, also known as Red Dress Day. Red dresses have become a symbol of the crisis. On that day Sydney presented a workshop at the fifth Center for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Symposium. Sydney’s workshop, “Cultures and Traditions of the Omaha Nation,” was about Indigenous traditions of the Omaha Nation, specifically some traditions from the Omaha tribe. She brought along a ribbon dress, some instruments, and beaded work, explaining the significance each piece has for the Omaha Nation. 

In March, Sydney, DEI interns, and members of the student organization PRISM (People Rising in Support of Multiculturalism) worked together to heighten awareness of the issue of Missing Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2 Spirits (MMIWG2S) during Women’s History Month. 

Red T-shirts were sold with proceeds going to Native Hope, which describes itself as a nonprofit that seeks to address the injustice to Native Americans. According to Native Hope, the National Crime Information Center reported in 2016 that there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls although the U.S. Department of Justice’s federal missing person database logged only 116 cases. 

“To be given the opportunity to bring awareness to a problem many kids don’t know about is so meaningful to me,” Sydney said in a recent interview. “Just to have the opportunity is incredible.” 

On March 26 a Courageous Conversation about the MMIWG2S campaign was held on campus. 

“Everyone was really engaged in the conversation,” Sydney said, “and after the conversation people were coming up and asking questions. To me that is powerful because it shows they cared about this topic. This awareness campaign was a start to many good conversations that hopefully went on.” 

And will carry on. 

“There is a lot of work to be done,” Sydney said, “and this is the perfect place to show that work off.” 





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