Darla Banks, daughter of the American Indian Movement founder Dennis Banks, stands in prayer every year for MMIW. On October 20, 2015, Darla's daughter was brutally murdered by her boyfriend. 2018.
Antavia Bowstring stands in solidarity for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) who still fight to this day for Justice. National MMIW Day, May 5, 2021.
Water protector, land protector, woman advocate, freedom fighter and musician Annie Humphrey stands at the gate of an Industrial lumber company who she believes rapes our Mother Earth; violence on the land is violence on our bodies.
Ruth Anna Buffalo, the first Native American woman elected to the North Dakota. Ruth paved a way in the state of North Dakota about the importance of state and federal laws in legislation regarding MMIW and Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP).
Esther Humphrey started a walk across the Rez 40 miles down Hwy 2 in the blistering cold of Northern Minnesota to fight for no more stolen sisters. 2018.
Waagoshens Steeprock leads a protest in Red Lake, Minnesota, known as the Motherland because Red Lake is a sovereign nation, Waagoshens sits on the board of MMIW 218, a Minnesota chapter; she joined after she got tired of losing best friends and family members to the epidemic of violence. 2020.
Waagoshens Steeprock stands in -23 below weather to fight for MMIW and to raise awareness alongside other women advocates and survivors. 2018.
Nina Polk stands in a replicated position as the Christopher Columbus statue once stood, Nina felt a form of power to honor the Ancestor women that were stolen and taken from our villages at young ages to be used as slaves and forced to be wives.
On the tracks of a train yard in Minneapolis, Minnesota, along the Mississippi River, where many trains travel back and forth from state to state where many women often go missing. Trina poses to raise awareness for women like her grandmother ,Phyllis JoAnne Sam, and friend Rose Downwind.
RickyMae Kitto stands at a State Park in Federal Dam, Minnesota, to raise awareness. Parks are a place where many missing Indigenous women have been found murdered. RickyMae works to raise awareness to pull people in because together we become stronger. 2018.
Miikawadizi stands in solidarity with other women and girls. Miikawadizi also became an MMIW one year after this photo was taken. Her school photo was shared on social media platforms and got a total of 30 shares in 8-10 hours. After posting this photo of Miikawadizi her photo got 15,000 shares in one hour; there was no amber alert issued for Miikawadizi. Luckily, Miikawadizi was brought home safely by a family member three days later who claimed they did not know she was reported missing. 2020.
A stranger in the crowd who stood out in front of thousands at the state capitol in Minnesota, where protectors came to stop Line 3 to end damage to our water, land, and bodies. Line 3 is a pipeline expansion proposed by Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline company, to bring nearly a million barrels of tar sands per day from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wisconsin. The Stranger stood out because turquoise and the red hand represent MMIW. Turquoise represents the healing and the red hand print represents no more silence. 2021.
Awareness campaign with first nations women of different culture backgrounds. This photo went viral on social media platforms. 2020.
Shela Tormanen and others stand together to raise awareness for MMIW, x Shela’s mother, Trina Langenbrunner, was murdered on September 3, 2000. In 2022 a television show that highlights Missing women contacted me after seeing this photo published on the cover of a magazine and are currently filming a series with Shela and her family. Shela said the pain she feels is re-triggering. 2020.
Miisko dances in the evening along the Mississippi River in St.Paul, Minnesota. Miisko dances to heal the water and our women from this epidemic. 2021.
Waagoshens, activist and mother of a daughter sits in fear in Red Lake, Minnesota, where hundreds of man camps were set up to build Line 3, a pipeline expansion proposed by Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline company, to bring nearly a million barrels of tar sands per day from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wisconsin. This day was held in honor for MMIW and MMIP. There is a red handprint on Waagoshens’ pants. She hopes and prays that she and her daughter never become a statistic. 2021.
Miigis and her son pose to show the importance of motherhood and how important mothers are to our future generations. 2020.
Rickymae Kitto poses in water at the Willow River State Park in Wisconsin. RickyMae poses to show women how they can overcome obstacles. 2022.
Rickymae poses to show 20 other women her age that becoming resilient comes within and together we can overcome obstacles and heal together. 2022
Sarah Agaton Howes, owner of Heart Berry, which sells items created with traditional Ojibwe designs. She is also a designer for Eighth Generation, a Native-owned and operated company in Seattle, Washington. Like Eighth Generation, her motto is “Inspired Natives not Native Inspired.” She is a role model to many Indigenous women who look up to her successful journeys. Sarah has donated items from Heart Berry to organizations across Minnesota. 2018
Katie Northbird, activist, teacher, counselor, and social worker, who founded the Red Lake Youth Shelter in 2022, shows inspiration for healing through reading, knowledge, and self-respect. 2020.
The names of Gabby Petito, Jamie Closs, Sarah Everard, and Lacey Peterson are publicized and all over the news. Why do we not hear the names Nevaeh Kingbird and Rose Downwind, who are among our missing Indigenous women? This project calls attention to these women and aims to educate the public about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. MMIW is a movement established to confront the racial hierarchy that was established after the patriarchal hierarchy that arrived with first contact in 1492. This MMIW campaign can be challenging when it comes to images. I always seek to portray Indigenous women as standing in power and being resilient. When I create images of women survivors, who have been affected by these traumatic experiences, I try to keep in mind that it has been the goal of colonization to erase the humanity of Indigenous women.
The invisibility of missing or murdered Indigenous women re-triggers negative effects on the families all over again. When you do not name missing women, the message is that these names are unimportant and go without recognition. Fear exists. The vast majority of the world looks at Indigenous women as less than human and less worthy of the full respect deserved. Ultimately, we are the object of male fantasies. The Nitaminikaazo Project challenges and these fantasies and replaces them with images of proud, defiant, organized, and determined women who are members of strong communities.
Negative propaganda about Indigenous women began as early as 1492. The earliest images of Indigenous women were from a time of genocide against the first peoples of this continent. When photography arrived in the 19th century, they were used as political weapons for assimilation. Boarding school photographs depicted Indigenous girls and youth in their traditional clothing alongside pictures of them in "western civilized” clothing. The message was that assimilation was consensual and desired.
During this era, wars were still being waged against Indigenous communities and included deadly massacres; such as the Sand Creek Massacre. Cheyenne women, children, and unarmed men were killed by being shot down and later mutilated. Pictures were taken of the massacre and the U.S. cavalry were hailed as heroes for committing hundreds of murders. White photographers did not portray Indigenous women as they were: strong and capable matriarchs. Imagery of Indigenous women fed into a mythology of the passive, exotic, savage. The chasm between the reality of Indigenous women’s lives and their objectification in historical pictures has only added to the dehumanization of Indigenous women found in the current Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic.
The purpose of the Nitaminikaazo Project is to affect positive change for the high risk population of Indigenous women through visual images. This project will build awareness with the goal of protecting underserved communities where women are often faced with historical trauma, racism, and sexual objectification. Ultimately, the hope is that this will lead to a decline in offenses against women.
Ne-Dah-Ness Rose Greene is an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and owner of Greene Photography LLC and the Native American women’s empowerment campaign, a photography business for women of color. Ne-Dah-Ness is a social justice activist and BIPOC photographer. Her powerful images reveal the unscripted poetry of our human world. The creative design in her art is extremely important. The settings and composition she selects for her photos directs the viewer to focus on the subject matter. Ne-Dah-Ness has a unique way of reaching people through the vision and “voice” of her lens. Her projects and sensitivity toward her subjects are well known internationally and in Indian Country. She is regularly sought out to photograph important events and specialized photoshoots that are culturally based. Her creative intuition and mastery of the camera has Ne-Dah-Ness rising quickly to the top of the competitive field of photography.