Pawhuska, OK – The director of the Osage Nation Family Violence Prevention Department, Olivia Gray, recently presented at the University of Texas, Arlington’s Native American Student Association and Mr. Les Ridingin (Osage/Pawnee) when the group hosted a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Symposium.
Also speaking at the Symposium were Professor Sarah Deer (Muscogee Creek), and a representative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tulsa. After presentations by each, the Student Association hosted a roundtable including the speakers as well as Jodi Voice Yellowfish (Muscogee Creek) from the Urban Intertribal Center of Texas who also heads up a grassroots MMIW group in the Dallas area, and a representative from the Tulsa Police Department.
Traditional Healing Coordinator, Tammy Cunningham, from the Osage Nation’s Family Violence Prevention Department also attended the event to be available for participants finding themselves triggered and in need of support. Ms. Cunningham works almost exclusively with victims of sexual assault.
Olivia Gray believes that the work they do with domestic violence, sexual assault, and human sex trafficking is actually prevention in the missing and murdered Indigenous woman epidemic. “The work we do every day in Pawhuska is to prevent more of our women going missing or being murdered because most times one or more issues are at play in a missing and murdered case whether it be domestic violence, sexual assault, child molestation, or trafficking. When we can do the work to remove women from those dangerous situations we have also reduced the risk that they will go missing and ultimately be discovered murdered.”
While Ms. Gray spends her days working for the Nation’s Family Violence Prevention Department, her nights and weekends are spent working on the issue of MMIW. She is hopeful the Osage Nation will be able to take a more active role in serving the families of missing and murdered Indigenous relatives since the award of a tribal set-aside grant from the Office of Victims of Crime.