Offering (2020) This work uses tobacco to bring awareness to the missing and murdered Indigenous women, all who have experienced disproportionate violence. Within North American Indigenous peoples, tobacco (nicotiana rustica) has been used for centuries as a medicine with cultural and spiritual importance. It is prescribed to promote physical, spiritual, emotional, and community well-being. A gift of tobacco is a sign of respect and may be offered when asking for help, guidance, or protection to an elder or to the earth when using its resources.
For this installation, each pile of tobacco is an offering for each Indigenous woman who has been missing or murdered within Canada and the U.S. The missing and murdered Indigenous epidemic is a national crisis that currently affects Indigenous people in regions that include First Nations, Inuit, Metis (FNIM), and Native Alaskan communities. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police 2014 report, “Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview”, found that thousands of Indigenous women were murdered over a span of thirty years. The homicide rate in Canada for Indigenous women was almost six times as high as the homicide rate for non-Indigenous women. Similar to Canada’s situation, specific data on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in the U.S. has also been difficult to gather. May 5th is commemorated as National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Support and Learn More
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
Offering installation at 44LLC April 9-16, 2023