Advocating for Systems Change for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives

illustration of Native American woman

Graphic artist: Sarah Agaton Howes


Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center
Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition


center on women, gender and public policy











  • The Bush Foundation
  • The Imagine Fund
  • Human Rights Center 
  • Institute for Advanced Study
  • MN Transform
  • Race, Indigeneity, Disability, Gender & Sexuality Studies 
  • UMN Women’s Center

The epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous relatives is rooted in colonial systems. The establishment of the first statewide task force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women by Minnesota in 2019, coupled with the 2021 Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaskan Natives, provides opportunity for change.

Join us for a day of presentations and panels to learn more from the intrepid leaders who have advocated for change at local, state, and federal levels; and to have honest conversations about what needs to be done to ensure that the policy measures taken by state and federal governments result in intentional, systemic solutions.

Friday, April 29,
8:30 a.m.–4 p.m.


Lunch will be provided for those who register to attend in person.
CART Captions for virtual attendees.


8:30-9:00        Registration and Tea

9:00-9:30        Opening Remarks
                         Humphrey School Professor Christina Ewig, Welcome
                         Great-grandmother Mary Lyons, Prayer
                         Humphrey School Dean Nisha Botchway
                         Jayme Davis, Words from the Organizers
                         Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan

9:30-9:45        Video Address: Relocation Revisited: Colonial Roots of MMIWG 
                         Professor Sarah Deer, introduced by An Garagiola

9:45-10:45      Keynote Address: Mobilizing to Find the Missing
                         Lissa Yellow Bird Chase, introduced by Jayme Davis

10:45-11:00    Break

11:00-12:00    Panel Discussion: State Policy Initiatives Advocating for Change
                         Rep. Ruth Buffalo, Sen. Mary Kunesh, Nicole MartinRogers*, Roger Smith, Sr.* 
                         Moderator: Nicole Matthews

12:00-1:00      Lunch

1:00-1:15        Video Address: U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, introduced by Christina Ewig

1:15-2:15        Panel Discussion: Tribal, State and Federal Strategies to Address MMIR
                         Brian Pottratz, Juliet Rudie, Jon Roesler, Allison Randall*
                         Moderator: Audrianna Goodwin

2:15-2:30        Break

2:30- 3:30       Panel Discussion: Social and Systems Change
                         Cary Waubanascum Hawpetos*, Greg LeBeau, Jessica Gidagaakoons Smith
                         Moderator: Marisa Cummings

3:30-4:00        Closing Remarks
                         Great-grandmother Mary Lyons
                         Lyz Jaakola

*denotes virtual presenter

Click for Virtual Program

All speakers and panels will be in the Cowles Auditorium. Lunch will be in the Mondale Commons. There will be a parallel Art and Resource Room in the Humphrey Forum (off the Mondale Commons), and a Self-Care Room in the Freeman Commons (second floor).

In the self-care room, a mental health counselor will be available for attendees who may be in need of care due to the difficult nature of this topic. Other resources will be available as well.


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Lissa Yellow Bird Chase

Arikara Nation, Founder of Sahnish Scouts

Portrait of Lissa Yellow Bird Chase

Ruth Buffalo

Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, North Dakota District 27 State House Representative

Portrait of Ruth Buffalo

Mary Kunesh

Standing Rock Lakota descendant, Minnesota State Senator 

Portrait of Mary Kunesh

Greg LeBeau

MSW, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Clinical Social Worker/Social Justice & Human Rights Activist

Portrait of Greg LeBeau

Nicole MartinRogers

White Earth Nation descendant, Research Scientist at Wilder Research

Portrait of Nicole MartinRogers

Brian Pottratz

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Human Trafficking Investigator, Leech Lake Tribal Police Department

Roger Smith Sr.

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, District III Brookston Representative Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Portrait of Roger Smith Sr.

Cary Waubanascum Hawpetoss, MSW, Ph.D.

Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, Assistant Professor, Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Portrait of Cary Waubanascum

Jon Roesler

Epidemiologist, Minnesota Department of Public Health

Portrait of Jon Roesler

Sarah Deer

Enrolled citizen, Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, Professor, University of Kansas

portrait of Sarah Deer

Marisa Miakonda Cummings

Umonhon/Omaha, President/CEO of the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center

Portrait of Marisa Miakonda Cummings


Juliet Rudie

Lower Sioux Community, Director of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Office

Portrait of Juliet Rudie

Nicole Matthews

White Earth Band of Ojibwe descendant, Executive Director, Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition

Portrait of Nicole Matthews

Jayme Davis

Jayme Davis, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Circle of Nations Consulting

Portrait of Jayme Davis

Allison Randall

Principal Deputy Director, Office on Violence Against Women, Department of Justice

Portrait of Allison Randall

Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan

White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota

Portrait of Peggy Flanagan

Jessica Gidagaakoons Smith

Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, Legal advocate, Gidagaakoons Advocacy, Consulting, and Research

Portrait of Jessica Gidagaakoons Smith

Mary Lyons

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Author, Humanitarian, Global Wisdom Keeper

Portrait of Mary Lyons

Audrianna Goodwin

Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, Humphrey School Masters of Public Policy Student

Portrait of Audrianna Goodwin

An Garagiola

Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, Research Assistant, Office of American Indian and Tribal Nations Relations, UMN

Portrait of An Garagiola

Lyz Jaakola

Nitaa-Nagamokwe, Musician and cultural educator, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Portrait of Lyz Jaakola

This event is the second of a two-part series. The first, on March 25, is called “Leading for the 7th Generation