April 30, 2019                                                                                             


Media Contacts:


Kirby Williams, Domestic Violence Outreach Coordinator, Native American Program

Direct: 402-348-1069, ext 269


Jonathan Seagrass, Managing Attorney, Native American Program

Direct: 402-348-1069, ext 266


Milo Mumgaard, Executive Director

Direct: 402-348-1069, ext 203


“Highway of Tears” Showing on May 1 at Film Streams with Post-Show Panel

Takes Look at Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Issue 


“Highway of Tears” is a Canadian film that investigates a tragic reality shared in the United States. Since the late 1960s, at least eighteen young women — many of them from disadvantaged First Nations communities — have disappeared or been found murdered along a remote stretch of highway in British Columbia. None of these cold cases were solved until recently. Those recent investigations have done little, however, to heal the wounds of Aboriginal communities who have seen dozens of their young women vanish along the “Highway of Tears.”


Narrated by Nathan Fillion, Matt Smiley’s hard-hitting documentary not only movingly relates the personal stories of the victims, but investigates how the legacy of generational poverty, high unemployment and endemic violence in their communities contributed to their tragic fates — and how contemporary First Nations leaders are striving to cure those ills. 


“While the film takes place in Canada, the issues it highlights are still very much relevant to the crisis here in the U.S. and right here in Omaha and Nebraska,” said Kirby Williams, Domestic Violence Outreach Coordinator for Legal Aid’s Native American Program. “Through this showing and the following panel, Legal Aid’s Native American Program and Film Streams are partnering to raise awareness of this issue and current efforts to address it, while also promoting services available to Native American survivors of violence.”


MMIWG hits close to home for Nebraska and Omaha.  A study from the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) found that of the 506 unique cases they identified across 71 U.S. cities:


    • Nebraska ranked 7th in U.S. states with the highest number of cases
    • Omaha, NE ranked 8th of U.S. cities with the highest number of cases


The post-film panelists will include Judi gaiashkibos (Ponca Tribe of Nebraska), Executive Director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs (NCIA) and Lorene Thomas (Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska), who has well over a decade’s worth of experience working in domestic violence and sexual assault prevention.  The panel will be moderated by Legal Aid’s Kirby Williams, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.


The event is free and open to the public, but tickets should be reserved online at  Limited to two per patron.


Attendees are also urged to wear red for MMIWG awareness.


About Legal Aid’s Native American Program


Legal Aid’s Native American Program assists Native Americans in tribal, state, or administrative court located in Nebraska, including providing free legal service to Native American survivors in legal issues pertaining to domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and stalking.


About Legal Aid of Nebraska


Legal Aid of Nebraska was established in 1963 and is the only statewide non-profit civil legal aid provider in Nebraska, providing free, high quality services to low-income Nebraskans in all 93 counties. Legal Aid’s mission is “to promote justice, dignity, hope and self-sufficiency through quality civil legal aid for those who have nowhere else to turn.” Legal Aid’s administrative offices are in Omaha, Nebraska.