Missing and murdered indigenous women recognized at Oshkosh vigil

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 10:06 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Governor Tony Evers declared Wednesday, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Awareness Day the city of Oshkosh followed suit.

“She disappeared on October 15 1986,” Alysse Arce says about her mother, Rae Tourtillott.

Arce was only seven weeks old when she went missing from the Menominee Reservation.

After 34 years with little answers, the FBI reopened her mother’s case two years ago.

“As far as I know nothing has happened, there’s a $15,000 reward out from the FBI and the Menominee tribe put out $5,000 also,” said Arce.

Unfortunately, her mother’s story is not uncommon for native women, who are murdered at a rate ten times the national average on some reservations.

“It’s really a over 500 year old epidemic that has roots in colonial violence against indigenous people and it’s just now getting attention because of our MMIW families and grass roots efforts pushing the issue,” said Kristin Welch, Executive Director of the Waking Women Healing Institute.

The Waking Women Healing Institute in Oshkosh established in December as one of those advocacy groups.

“Advocating at the local level for more training for law enforcement, better response from law enforcement when they’re working with our indigenous relatives and we need better count in the data and that we’re going missing in the data,” said Welch.

That is why vigils like this one in Oshkosh are important events to help spread awareness.

“We are not only family that is going through this, there’s thousands of families going through this, not just in Wisconsin but everywhere in the United States this is the only way to get the word out,” Arce.

Bridges in several communities in the Fox Valley will be lit red Wednesday night to honor these women.

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