Gabby Petito’s disappearance immediately captured our collective attention. The social platforms—from  Tiktok to Twitter—were supplying hour-by-hour information with theories, stories, data, awareness campaigns, and investigative updates. TV news followed. We could not divert our eyes, which is so important when someone goes missing. The area in Wyoming where Gabby’s lifeless body was eventually discovered—and news crews swarmed—has been a vanishing point for hundreds of other young women and girls for generations. Most of these disappearances are Indigenous people.

Indigenous people who are missing are not getting the attention they deserve. A Wyoming state-wide report by the Urban Indian Health Institute found that only 30% of Indigenous homicide victims earned news coverage compared to 51% of white victims. Furthermore, Indigenous female homicide victims had the least amount of newspaper media coverage at 18%. The state of Wyoming is not alone in these drastic differences in attention of Indigenous women and girls. Native people, organizations, non-profits, and Indigenous families have been sounding the alarm for decades.

One of the most important parts of our mission at Native Americans in Philanthropy is amplifying the voices of our communities when they are not being heard in the philanthropic sector. We do this so that the sector will take action. When considering how to fund in this space, here are four options philanthropy can consider.

It takes a tremendous amount of research and planning to understand and identify the dominant narrative, key messages, and influencers around an issue such as missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. This takes investing in the cutting-edge research and network building that is being built by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people. Advancing data sovereignty work can be a vital investment. A great place to learn more is the Urban Indian Health Institute and their report on this issue.

Foundations may find themselves wanting to engage with prominent voices around specific issues. However, they need to decide where their leverage lies with regard to the public narrative. It may not necessarily include acting as a public messenger or increasing their own prominence in the field. Instead, foundations can help shift a narrative by leveraging their systems and resources to quickly fund Indigenous organizers and movements. NDN Collective, the Native Organizers Alliance, and many other local grassroots movements funded through Native-led intermediaries are a great place to engage with movement leaders.

Read the full article about how philanthropy can help address the missing Indigenous women crisis by Erik Stegman at Native Americans in Philanthropy.