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The Red Dress Exhibit

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

YWCA Lower Cape Fear is partnering with local businesses and organizations to display the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Red Dress Exhibit, sponsored by Corning Native American Council. This exhibit provides a visual representation of the many cases of missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 

In the United States, Indigenous Women are 10x more likely to be murdered than the national average. These staggering statistics, along with the importance of Native women's role in tribal communities, has sparked the MMIWG movement across North America. In North Carolina there are 600+ cases of MMIWG, in 2019, there were 266 reported cases of human trafficking, and North Carolina ranks in the top 10 for reports of human trafficking to the National Hotline. This exhibit raises awareness to the epidemic and pushes a local and state-wide effort to bring the missing women home.


In various tribes, red is known to be the color only spirits see. It is hoped that by displaying red dresses we can call back the missing spirits of our women and children so that we may lay them to rest.

(Images on this site were taken by Ashley Lomboy, Waccamaw Siouan Tribe, at Lake Waccamaw State Park of the 2020-2021 Waccamaw Siouan Tribe Ambassadors)


What is the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Movement?

MMIWG, is Mass movement in the US and Canada which raises awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) through organized marches, the building of databases, local community, city council, and tribal council meetings, and domestic violence trainings for police.

Learn more about this movement by watching YWCA Lower Cape Fear's Talk On Race: Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls


Startling Statistics

In the US, Native American women are more than twice as likely to experience violence than any other demographic.

1 in 3 Native women is sexually assaulted during her life.

67% of these assaults are perpetrated by non-Natives.

Murder is the third-leading cause of death among American Indian/Alaska Native Women.

In 2016 5,712 cases of MMIWG were reported in the US, only 116 of them where logged in DOJ database

84% of Native Women have experienced violence in their lifetime Source: National Institute of Injustice


The National Indigenous Women's Resource Center created a toolkit for families and communities to assist in understanding and responding to a case of a missing or murdered Indigenous woman. These resources provide a starting point and outline important information and resources available. Explore and download the toolkit below. (Note: This toolkit is not designed to address how to respond when someone 17 or younger goes missing.)

Outside Exploitation

Native American women are murdered and sexually assaulted at rates as high as 10 times the average in certain counties in the United States.

These crimes are overwhelmingly committed by individuals outside the Native American community.

The majority of these murders are committed by non-Native people on Native-owned land. Because of the lack of communication between state, local, and tribal law enforcement, it's difficult to begin the investigation process.

MMIWNC hosts a podcast Red Justice Project to bring awareness to the many cases of missing and murdered indigenous people in North America, and the way they are erased in the media. Listen to the stories of these women and girls. 


Gathering Data

One barrier to collecting data is racial misclassification. This is the incorrect coding of an individual’s race or ethnicity.

In 2018, the Seattle-based Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) completed its landmark survey, reporting 5,712 missing Alaska Native and American Indian women and girls, only 116 of whom were registered in the Department of Justice database.  

MMIW are murdered at a rate ten times higher than other ethnicities and it's the third leading cause of death for Native Women (Centers for Disease Control). 


The Red Dress Exhibit resources center offers relevant legal news and information regarding MMIWG, articles and help centers.


Fighting Stereotypes

The lack of knowledge about Native People contribute to MMIW stereotypes and create environments that dehumanize and objectify Indigenous Women.

  • Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women go missing due to sexual assault and domestic violence

  • Stereotypes of Indigenous Women dehumanize and objectify, and contribute to their exploitation

  • Stereotypical stories and falsehoods contribute to the aggression towards Indigenous Women, i.e., Pocahontas

  • Misconceptions that Native People have magical powers and romanticizing images that portray Native People as mystical and not normal contribute to the dehumanization of Native People

  • The hyper-sexualization of Indigenous Women contributes to their exploitation, e.g., the 1980s adult video game Custer's Revenge desensitized society to the harmful nature of violence against Indigenous Women

  • The Thanksgiving Holiday is romanticized in American culture -- educating children from the white, colonist perspective

Learn about the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that creates programs and activities that seek to prevent and respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.


Upcoming Events

  • YWCA Advocacy & Racial Justice Committee Meeting
    YWCA Advocacy & Racial Justice Committee Meeting
    Wed, May 12
    May 12, 5:30 PM
    Use your voice to make a difference in our community.

The Red Dress Exhibit Collaborators

Thank you to each organization that has made this exhibit possible. 
Photo Credit: Ashley Lomboy, Waccamaw Siouan Tribe, Native American Council Leader at Corning.

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The Red Dress Exhibitors

Valued Feedback

"This exhibit has made me aware of Native Women who are exploited and taken advantage of. I appreciate all of the hard work the committee has made to raise awareness of this disparity."

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