The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

'Red Night' in Frazer Honors Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

 

January 30, 2019

A.J. Etherington / The Courier

Sonya Smoker (l) embraces Paula Castro, the mother of Henny Scott who was murdered in Lame Deer Montana last December.

The Frazer community came together with the Frazer High School and Poplar High School to honor and raise awareness for missing and murdered indigenous women and girls last Friday, Jan. 25. The event, which occurred between the boys and girls basketball games in the Frazer gymnasium, sought to raise funds and provide support to the family of Henny Scott, a 14-year-old freshman at Lame Deer High School, who went missing for a number of weeks before being found murdered in late December.

Her parents, Paula Castro and Nathan Stops, along with her little sister attended the event in Frazer where staff, students and community members donned red #MMIWG (murdered and missing indigenous women and girls) t-shirts and took turns embracing the family.

Frazer High School Principal Sonya Smoker said the event was intended to both raise awareness and honor the family, while simultaneously seeking to inspire other schools to take on the challenge of raising awareness about the risks to indigenous women in the Nation. Smoker explained they dubbed the night "Red Night" and modeled the night off of "Pink Night" where the teams wear pink and promote breast cancer awareness.

"Every year we do Pink Night," explained Smoker, "and it is becoming a custom all over Montana. So we wanted to do something to honor the missing indigenous women and girls. And also to raise awareness of the many risks to Native girls." Smoker hopes it will take on in other schools regardless of ethnicity and focus on human trafficking and violence against women.

Smoker said the intent was to raise money to help the victims of violence and their families, so they decided to reach out to Scott's family and offer to help them. When the family had heard what the community was doing, they made the effort to come themselves and the honoring ceremony was held to not only present them with a star quilt and a ribbon skirt but for the community to embrace them as well.

"We were so grateful they decided to come," said Smoker before adding with a slight smile, "We got a lot of support all across the reservation."

This is not the first event Frazer has undertaken to help raise awareness surrounding violence towards Native women and human trafficking. In October the school hosted a "No Fear" seminar inviting law enforcement agencies from Valley County, the Fort Peck Tribes and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to come in and discuss the risks of human trafficking and drugs to the student body. A risk made more urgent on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation by recent increases in oil development and the potential for future pipeline construction in the region.

The community is looking to continue the event and make it into an athletic tradition for years to come. Smoker finished off her comments stating confidently, "We are trying to start a trend here."

Law enforcement has struggled to respond to the alarming number of indigenous women going missing or suffering violence each year. According to the Center for Public Integrity as of 2016, there were 5,712 cases of missing Native American women reported to the National Crime Information Center. Montana Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines have both worked on bills in Congress to provide funding and support to law enforcement to fix the issue. See "Montana Senators Fight For Indigenous Women" on the front page of this issue of the Courier.

 

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