Western Native Voice works year-round to inspire Native leadership so our communities flourish. We are excited to announce the launch of the Western Native Voice Community Spotlight, designed to highlight grassroots organizing and individuals creating change from across Montana and in Indian Country.
This month we visited with Briana Lamb, Missoula-based community organizer and Western Native Voice intern, to learn more about what inspires her activism and community involvement.
Ms. Briana Lamb
School: University of Montana
Major: Bachelors of Business Administration
“I am 28 years old and currently a junior at the University Of Montana. I have two children, boys, Andre, age 10, and Ethan, age 9. I am an enrolled member of the Fort Belknap Indian reservation, Aaniiih (White Clay) with roots in Nii mii pu (Nez Perce) Country as well. My hobbies include sewing and beading, watching my kids participate in various activities: basketball, soccer, baseball and powwows- we love to dance”.
In what way are you involved or give back to your community?
“About 6 years ago, I made some life changing decisions. I left a bad relationship and was totally a broken person. I meet a great group of people who really supported me and encouraged my growth. I started out helping with domestic violence work and that morphed into MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) activism- for lack of a better word. Since then, I have helped with or personally headed multiple events throughout the year that include teach-ins, open forums and vigils. Annually, February 14th, for the past 5 years I’ve held a memorial in some form. February 14th is a day of solidarity in the U.S with Canada as they have been holding MMIW marches for the past 30 years”.
What motivates you to effect change in your community?
“I could have easily been one of those statistics, someone missing or murdered. My friends or family members could easily become one of those statistics. My ultimate goal would be to help bring all these (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) statistics to 0, but at this point if I can help one person or family in their healing processes then to me that’s something great.
Sometimes, I think we can get caught up in the negative of things and little things don’t matter but in reality they do. I was having a moment like this recently this year, and in the same week received messages from two separate families thanking me for the work I do
for MMIW. They shared with me stories of their daughters, happy, beautiful girls who were murdered, and in the end received no justice. Getting messages like that shows that there really is a need; a need to share their stories, a need for justice, a need for awareness and most importantly a need to keep pushing and moving forward in trying to solve the MMIW crisis so that as a whole we can all work towards healing”.
What kind of change do you want to see in your community 5 years from now,?
“In the next five years, I want to see the statistics of MMIW start to decrease. I hope to become more involved in writing and helping with policy work to really start making changes even if it’s at the most basic level”.
How can people, both neighbors and strangers, help your efforts?
“At this point, bringing awareness to the crisis that is missing murdered indigenous women is a great first step. The more light that is shed on the issue the greater our next steps can be. Our path to ending this crisis isn’t clear cut, but some things that can be done are encouraging your Senators and Congress people to pass legislation that closes legal loopholes. Currently, Savanna’s Law, a Federal bill to direct the U.S. Attorney General to review, revise, and develop law enforcement and justice protocols appropriate to address missing and murdered indigenous people, has been introduced, but is stagnant in the House and Senate. We can also push for increases in funding and database access for Native communities to help fight the problem from the ground up”.