We Are Not Invisible - How the MMIW Movement Inspired Me to Do More / by Thomas Lopez

by Micaela Iron Shell-Dominguez

In the beginning…

As a young girl, I was told the story of how I was brought into this world. Almost 30 years ago my parents, Christina Dominguez and Calvin Iron Shell Jr., were exploring their birds and their bees in the forests of the Sicangu, Lakota Nation in Rosebud, SD, when they heard what they believe to be a spirit. They quickly gathered themselves and left the area respectfully and 9 months later, there I was! Those darn spirits! 👻🤫


I grew up an Indigenous Xicana womxn from Denver, Colorado. In a community that was mi genté aka POC (people of color). I never felt wholly accepted by other femxles as they rarely took the time to know me and I was bullied throughout all of middle and high school. All of my bullies have been cis-gendered femxles. I’ve always had to fight off the bigger, badder femxle and I never understood why. I was raised by a strong line of matriarchs. From my Great-Grandmother, to my Grandmother, to my Mother, and myself; I was shown the power of womxn when we work together and empower one another. These teachings seemed to disappear when it came time to go to school.

Who I became…

My experience as a girl allowed me to becoming the womxn I am today. I am a human rights advocate, an IIYC youth mentor and board member, Co-Founder of Womxn From the Mountain and a board member of the Women of Color in Solidarity collective, based out of NYC. Remember that spirit I mentioned earlier? I feel these spirits when I am confronted with the trauma resonating from our Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. This is one reason I was brought into this world. I work to bring womxn of all backgrounds together in a way that allows us to empower each other and create strong, matriarchal bonds for future generations. My continued pursuit is to help spread awareness and stop the violence our womxn and two-spirit people have endured for centuries. Maybe then we can begin to feed our families and communities the love and sustenance they require to thrive again. 💪🏾💪🏾💪🏾

Indigenous Peoples March, 2019

Indigenous Peoples March, 2019

Missing & Murdered Indigenous People

From the tip of Alaska to La Tiera de Fuego (Argentina/Chile) Indigenous womxn and two-spirit people are being murdered, kidnapped, and silently trafficked around the world at an alarmingly high rate (that’s 3x higher than that of other marginalized and targeted communities). Indigenous womxn have been targeted in America since 1492 when Christopher Columbus and other colonizers kidnapped young womxn and girls and held them against their will throughout Europe; this was the begining of the sex traffiking epidemic we see in America, today.

Missing & Murdered Indigenous Sisters Collage

Missing & Murdered Indigenous Sisters Collage

The Department of Justice surveyed 2,000 US Indigenous womxn.

  • 84% of those womxn reported they’d experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.

  • 90% of these womxn’s attackers were non-natives.

  • 60% of these womxn reported they also experienced psychological violence often resulting in their return to their abuser.

That means 1 in 3 Indigenous girls and womxn will experience some sort violence (be that physical, psychological or sexual) in their lives. Unfortunately, there is no infrastructure in place to gather crucial information needed to accurately quote numbers and statistics; and whilst Missing & Murdered Indigenous Womxn have been the focal point of many studies and statistics, data is still incomplete until research reflects that of missing & murdered Indigenous trans and two-spirit youth. 🔥💯

If we don’t stand for something we’ll fall for anything…

Our womxn and girls are sacred to the earth, we carry the water which is life. We have been devalued, ignored and pushed to the point of vague visibility. However, we are still here, sisters. We come from this earth and we carry the water that makes life, in all of its glory, possible. As Unchi Maya Angelou once said,

“It’s in the reach of my arms,

The span of my hips,   

The stride of my step,   

The curl of my lips.

I’m a womxn, Phenomenally.”

Women of Color in Solidarity Conference, 2017

Women of Color in Solidarity Conference, 2017

We are all phenomenal womxn. We are strong, beautiful and resilient. We are the back bones of the colorful communities we keep. With all of this power we must also learn from the RedWoods and support each other when one falls week or high winds blow. It will be our strong roots, bound together in solidarity, that will ensure the safety of the next generation. I remember being bullied and how sad it made me, but now what I really see is pain. I acknowledge the pain these young womxn experienced to treat me the way they did. Trauma is a funny thing and it shows itself in funny ways, but if I can offer healing through forgiveness then let it be; I forgive you and I love you sisters. ❤️

How can I make a change?

The best way to help spread awareness is through public education. We will transform the national conversation about Indigenous girls, two-spirit, and trans womxn by building a strong foundation of compassion, knowledge, and sustainable legal justice to help reveal this issue to the global society. 🌎

I am a Co-Founder of Womxn From the Mountain, we are an all-womxn collective that focuses on womxn, local activism, womxn/trans social justice rights issues, human rights issues, and education. I would like to invite you to our bi-weekly womxn’s circle. During the womxn’s circle we will gather info from community members in the US about MMIP in an effort to raise awareness about those who are being directly affected. I am actively seeking stories of survival and resilience; these stories will be highlighted on May 5, 2019 for the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Womxn and Girls. Join us Thursday April 25 from 6-8PM at The Forge on 970 Yuma St. If you want to share your story or have questions or concerns email me at mironshell@gmail.com.