Red Shawl Day, November 19th

Red Shawl Day, observed annually on November 19, is a day to honor, respect, and remember the missing and murdered Indigenous people and serves as a memorial for those who lost a loved one. It is also a means to raise awareness of the acts of violence committed against American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN), especially women and children.

A report made by the Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center found that between 2011-2020, 710 Indigenous people were reported missing across the US. 85% of them are juveniles and 75% women. In addition, between 2000-2020, 105 Indigenous people were murdered – 71 males and 34 females. According to the Department of Justice, they are murdered and missing at a rate of more than ten times the national average. Homicide is the third leading cause of death of AIAN women under the age of 20.

The name of the day is rooted in Indigenous symbolism. While shawls are usually worn by girls and women during traditional ceremonies and represent protection, red is the only color visible by the people who moved to the spirit world. Thus it describes the loss of the sacred lifeblood.

The red shawl was also a symbol of the struggle for women’s equality and was Susan B. Anthony’s signature look to advocate for women’s right to vote.

On the day, many Native American communities are holding memorial and prayers services, in which the names of the victims and the day they were murdered or went missing get inscribed on a shawl. You can commemorate and honor the day by wearing red and joining the conversation on social media using #RedShawlDay.


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