Participants at the Carrying the Message MMIP group candlelight vigil on December 31.
By DANA HERNANDEZ
FORT HALL — Carrying the Message Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Group had a candlelight vigil at the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on New Year’s Eve 2021.
Ron Braman, began the candlelight vigil with a prayer for all those missing. Paul Frank, Carrying the Message Group member spoke, “Being here is a place where I can vent and not be condemned or judged because some stuff is too heavy for other places. Some places we go to and speak, they will say it’s too much for them to hear about the missing people, but if that’s too much, then how do you think the family of those missing people feel.”
Frank said his work is to shed light on those that are missing and struggling with addiction.
Willeena George said the journey has been long and emotional for their group as she advocates for the missing and murdered people and that she stands with the families to get justice for them. “I have to be the strong one and be there for the families because it is really heartbreaking for them. I do this because I care and I know they will be found one day.”
She said Matt Broncho and her uncle Webster George are still missing. “The missing and murdered movement is starting to get nationwide attention and I keep pushing to find those missing and to get closure.”
Candlelight vigil participants Sarah Tendoy.
Father Richard Mendez also spoke, “Jurisdiction issues are an issue with our people and the fact that the Gabby Petito case got nationwide coverage and we don’t is because we don’t matter, but we are all God’s children and we all matter — we are all made in his image. We need to pray and teach our children to not be alone and to watch out.”
Braman said the Episcopal church still celebrates Christmas until January 6 and that is why the decorations are still up, but he said he was glad those in attendance could be together on New Year’s Eve. He added that some churches do a watch or wake on New Years’ Eve, especially the Black churches because the day after was when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed —they call it Freedom Eve.
Braman said, “as Paul said, it can be hard for some to look at their pain and their trauma, here at the Episcopal church I had the opportunity to attend the UN Forum for Indigenous Issues and I brought up our missing and murdered people and I think we are finally bringing it to the world’s attention.”