On May 4 at 3 p.m., the Lawrence University Native American Organization (LUNA) will be hosting an event with speaker Renee Gralewicz on Main Hall Green. The talk is entitled “A Long Hard Road of Genocide and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls & 2 Spirit Relatives (MMIWG2S).” According to Jessica Hopkins, junior and president of the Lawrence University Native American organization, “Two-Spirit (also two spirit or, occasionally twospirited) is a modern, pan-Indian, umbrella term used by some Indigenous North Americans to describe Native people in their communities who fulfill a traditional third-gender (or other gender-variant) ceremonial and social role in their cultures.”
Renee Gralewicz, Outreach Team Member for the Waking Women Healing Institute, is a Brothertown Indian Nation Elder and Peacemaker. Gralewicz has over 10 years of experience on Tribal Council and is a retired University of Wisconsin System professor of anthropology. The presentation will be centered around the genocide that has been caused by colonialism in relation to MMIWG2S issues, said Gralewicz.
The Waking Women Healing Institute is led by Menominee member Kristin Welch and is centered around healing and learning, said Gralewicz. They strive to help people heal from the effects of colonialism in a variety of ways such as hosting ceremonies and providing education.
“We all need to wake away from this colonialism, we need to wake up to who we truly are and how humans fit among all of the creations around us… What do we need to do to help ourselves and to help others?” Gralewicz said.
The Native Justice Coalition’s webpage explains that the MMIWG2S Program started in 2019, and “addresses the ongoing violence and continued genocide that affects Native women, girls and Two-Spirit people across the U.S. and Canada.” The movement started in Canada with the release of a report that declared these murders and disappearances as ongoing genocide.
After Gralewicz’s presentation, there will be a MMIWG2S hand sign activity to allow students to show support for the program by putting the signs in their windows. In the event of rain, the presentation will be held in the Somerset room of the Warch Campus Center.
Hopkins explained that the purpose of this event is to show solidarity with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit Relatives (MMIWG2S) movement. According to Hopkins, Indigenous women experience violence at much higher rates than any other ethnicity, and this is a problem that needs to be solved as a global community.
LUNA will be collaborating with Delta Gamma, Kappa Kappa Gamma and the Diversity and Intercultural Center. Hopkins stated that they are collaborating with several sororities because it is important for women to stand together. Hopkins hopes that this event will serve to get students more involved in this issue and show solidarity for the movement.
Gralewicz’s presentation will include a discussion of resource extraction, the process of removing the Earth’s resources such as oil and coal. Resource extraction is related to MMIWG2S issues in the existence of “man camps.” According to Gralewicz, man camps are residential areas that are created to supply employees with housing. Gralewicz further explained that in man camps, corporations are essentially allowed to govern their employees, meaning that it’s harder to adjudicate for crimes that take place in these camps.
“The company typically negotiates with federal and local governing bodies (excluding Indigenous leadership) for total authority (sovereignty of sorts) over their employees and all actions within the camp,” said Gralewicz, “so this means that crimes and searches for missing people who may be taken inside the camp usually do not happen.”
Because of the capitalist nature of these corporations, they are “all about profit, not people,” said Gralewicz.
Gralewicz will also discuss the discrepancy of medical examiner reports versus the reports that the bodies of victims show. The notion that we must always support the police is ingrained into our society, Gralewicz said, so medical reports often match the police reports even when the body shows evidence of defensive wounds.
Moreover, Gralewicz encourages students to come to the event for the history lesson component to the presentation. Oftentimes, people do not acknowledge the genocides that have been caused by colonialism, said Gralewicz. Additionally, Indigenous people make up about two percent of the population and are often just lumped into “something else” categories, explained Gralewicz. Gralewicz stressed the importance of knowing all parts of U.S. history and its continued day-to-day effects by stating that “it’s not history, it’s contemporary.”