News and Commentary

American Indians Domestic Violence Murdered and Missing Murdered or Missing

When a Problem Affects 545 Native women, It’s a “Crisis.” But if It Affects 1,681 Native Men, It’s Not.

Sharing is caring!

When a Problem Affects 545 Native women, It’s a “Crisis.” But if It Affects 1,681 Native Men, It’s Not.

Coalition to End Domestic Violence

January 28, 2022

The problem of murdered and missing Indians has been recognized for years. As early as 2019, the Department of Justice National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NaMus) listed 404 missing Native Americans — 250 males and 154 females.[i]

More recently, the Centers for Disease Control released a detailed report on “Homicides of American Indians/Alaska Natives” spanning the years 2003 to 2018.  The CDC report reveals that males represent 75.5% of all Indian victims of homicide — 1,681 male victims and 545 female victims.[ii]

In 2013 Congress added a new section to the federal Violence Against Women Act titled, “Safety for Indian Women.” The record provides no explanation or justification for the exclusion of Indian men.[iii] The VAWA amendment galvanized a fevered national movement known as Murdered and Missing Indian Women, or “MMIW.”


Nine years later, a Google search on the words “murdered and missing indigenous women” turns up 63,300 results. These numbers include media articles, websites, legislative reports, and more.

But a Google search on “murdered and missing indigenous men” turns up a much smaller number — only 1,920 results. Why is there such a disquieting disparity?

Last year, Senators Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska published an editorial titled, “Shocking History of Violence Against Native Women is a Crisis We Can Stop.” The essay repeatedly referred to the “crisis” of murdered, missing, and trafficked Indigenous women.[iv]

But the article made no mention of murdered American Indian men, such as Levi Brian Yellow Mule of the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana. Or Russell Shack who was shot by Amber Yazzie during the course of an armed robbery in Gallup, NM. Or the many hundreds of other murdered Indian men.

Apparently, when a problem affects 545 Native women, it’s a “crisis.” But if it affects 1,681 Native men, it’s not.

The American Dream is founded on the pursuit of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Given the pre-eminent importance of “life,” it’s fair to ask: Why do the lives of Native American men seem to count for so much less than the lives of Native American women?