You wouldn’t think that human trafficking would be possible in the U.S. today. With the widespread use of smartphones, camera-capable devices, and various social media platforms, how could anyone go missing? In the Age of Information, how could our loved ones disappear?

The reality is that human traffickers use our ignorance to their advantage. You’re unlikely find them dragging people off the streets kicking and screaming. It’s more subtle than that. Public libraries are one of the most common recruitment sites throughout the country. Human trafficking is happening in plain sight.

Throughout Montana, local organizations are doing their part to raise awareness and put an end to human trafficking in our state. In Wolf Point, the Red Bird Woman Center provides crisis counseling and forensic interviewing to victims of violence and sexual abuse, particularly those belonging to the demographic most often preyed upon—Native American women.

According to Lisa Brunner of the National Indigenous Women’s
Resource Center:

“Native women experience violent victimization at a higher rate than any other U.S. population. Congressional findings are that Native American and Alaska Native women are raped 34.1 percent more; one in three will be raped in their lifetime. Sixty-four percent, more than six in ten, will be physically assaulted. Native women are stalked more than twice the rate of other women. Native women are murdered at more than ten times the national average. Non-Indians commit 88 percent of violent crimes against Native women. Given the above statistical data and the historical roots of violence against Native women, the level of human trafficking given the sparse data collected can only equate to the current epidemic levels we face within our tribal communities and Nations.”

The disproportionate impact of sex crimes, violence, and trafficking on Native women is almost unspeakable—but speaking up is exactly what we must do. Learn the signs of human trafficking and share them with your friends and family. If you see something suspicious, report it to your local authorities. It is up to us to save our Native sisters and all victims of human trafficking.

In Montana, we look after each other. This cannot stand.