My name is Denae Shanidiin with MMIWhoismissing. I’ve been blessed to be on the receiving end of Project Who Is Missing: the real-life experiences that somehow needed to be documented not just by anyone but by Jon. I remember the first time Jon photographed an MMIWhoismissing event. He sent me the scans probably at like midnight. I remember shaking, I sat at my kitchen table and wept. “Woah...” I thought. I remember that was one of the first times I felt honored as an Indigenous person in such a profound way.
Jon’s work helped my family heal a dormant but sacred pain. My auntie was murdered when she was nineteen and he documented my personal need to expose that wound with my grandparents and my auntie’s daughter, my cousin. He was there honoring my family’s pain and I didn’t even have to ask him. He cried with me, with us, and through him he reminded us that our pain was beautiful.
He packed my community up and drove us in his big ass family van to South Dakota. That was a painful and profound trip and it shows in the images. Again, I received the images and wept again. The same with Minneapolis, where murder rates among Indigenous people are unfathomable. Jon was there, documenting.
And since...here in Salt Lake City we just passed May 5th as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and LGBTQ awareness day, a victory I know MMIWhoismissing contributed to. One official who voted in favor of this resolution said, “I know, I’ve seen the photos.” And now, Salt Lake City is in the process of forming a task force!
These images are sacred. These images tell stories and alter our gaze. These images have humanized this pain that can be abstract for many people outside of it. These images make one question their privilege, they also honor our indigeneity. These images make me feel powerful, they make me love my own people more fully. These images tell an ugly truth in a beautiful way.
MMIWhoismissing has since become a healing force that uses the power of the image and the gravity of content to educate thousands of people all across the world and I feel it....we are growing. I am growing. & things are changing.
This is the power of meaningful work. (SEE "THE MISSING")
If you would like to be collaborate with MMIWHOISMISSING please fill out the form and we will be in touch. This project operates on sustaining donations at no cost to you.
In love and power,
We are based out of Salt Lake City, Utah