The Madras girls basketball team has a different look this season.
The team is wearing black warm up shirts with a red handprint and the letters MMIW.
It’s not a fashion trend, it’s a call to awareness.
“It means a lot because a lot of our teammates have family members or women who have gone missing or murdered,” said Madras senior Taya Holliday. “I have an aunt that was murdered and another aunt that has been missing for 20 years.”
Red handprints can symbolize a lack of interest given to victimized Indigenous women, many of whom end up missing or murdered.
“My friend’s mother went missing and was murdered and was found and we were out searching and stuff, trying to spread the word,” said MHS sophomore Alexa Martinez.
MMIW, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
The goal is to get people’s attention.
“This is what we are wearing for warm-ups, on game days, so when we travel to different places people see the shirts and start asking questions like what is that and what does it represent,” said Madras head girls basketball coach Jerin Say.
In 2019, the Oregon State Legislature passed House Bill 2625, which directed the Oregon State Police to conduct a study involving Missing and Murdered Native American Women.
“It goes unnoticed a lot so that is why we wear the handprints and the words,” said Holliday.
That study found as of September 2020, there were 13 Native American women reported missing, nearly 70% were under 18 years old.
In addition, there were 22 additional entries for missing females that have “unknown” listed as the race and the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office had 33 unidentified female human remains, 20 are listed with an ethnicity of “American Indian.”
“There are still Native American women out there that are still missing or that have been murdered and are still missing,” said Martinez.
On the back of the girls’ shirts is the word Naimu, which means family.
“As a team you grow a bond overtime,” said Martinez. “Our team is majority Native American women and so being able to have our language on the back is something that kind of goes with the shirt also being indigenous and being able to have the word family on the back really means a lot for our team.”