Eastern Oregon University > Current News > Native American Heritage Month brings awareness on campus

Native American Heritage Month brings awareness on campus

Native American Heritage Month brings awareness on campus

Nov. 18, 2021 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Each November, as the leaves disappear, red dresses replace them in trees on Eastern Oregon University’s campus.

During Native American Heritage Month, EOU’s Native American Program and Speel-Ya, in collaboration OHSU’s School of Nursing – La Grande Extension Senate and Shelter From the Storm, hang the dresses to raise awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). 

“The MMIW Red Dress Campaign seeks to bring awareness to the highly disproportionate rates at which Indigenous women go missing or are found murdered in the United States and around the world,” said Interim Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion Mika Morton. “This campaign also seeks to bring awareness to the injustices that Indigenous populations face on a daily basis.” 

The red dresses displayed on campus symbolize women who have gone missing or have been murdered whose cases are still unresolved. More often than not, Morton said, domestic violence and sexual assault play a role in these cases. Most of them go without public or mass media attention. 

Morton referenced a 2016 study by the National Institute of Justice, which found that more than 4 out of 5 indigenous women (84%) have experienced physical violence. This includes 56% who have experienced sexual violence, 56% who have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner, 49% who have experienced stalking, and 66% who have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner. 

“Many past and current EOU students have been personally impacted by this national epidemic and have known and seen friends and family be affected,” Morton said. 

To learn more about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Red Dress Campaign, visit eou.edu/nap/native-american-heritage-month or send an email to mccenter@eou.edu. To learn more about EOU’s Native American Program and to find information about other events around Native American Heritage Month, visit eou.edu/nap.