Ponca Tribe of Nebraska raises awareness of Indigenous trafficking victims

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A demonstration was held in Lincoln on Friday to raise awareness of Indigenous women who have been victims of human trafficking.

The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska hosted the Red Sand Project event, where gatherers poured red sand into the cracks of the sidewalk to represent the women who have “fallen through the cracks.”

This was the first time it’s been held in Lincoln. The Red Sand Project was founded in 2014 and has since become a national project.

Adrianna Buffalo Chief, human trafficking program coordinator for the Ponca Tribe, said she began the project in Lincoln to shed light on the Native women who are often forgotten.

“It’s important to spread the word that Native women are targets, sometimes more than other communities, because Native women have been a vulnerable population for some time,” Buffalo Chief said.

According to an FBI study, 40% of sex trafficking victims are Indigenous, yet that group represents less than 10% of the general population.

Wathina Porter, a case manager at the Friendship Home, also attended the event.

As an Indigenous woman, she said there is also a lack of representation in other areas.

“A lot of our stories are unheard, and we don’t get a lot of media attention,” Porter said.

Porter also said this demonstration made her think of all of her Indigenous sisters who haven’t received their justice.

For her, these women are more than just a number.

“I have personal experience growing up and seeing personally what it does to families, and being a child as well, seeing your parent go through that,” Porter said.

Buffalo Chief says she can relate to the women she helps, and this project was a way for her to give victims and survivors a voice.

“Ultimately, we are happy to provide these services, and we’re happy to help restore people’s lives if they need it and help them in any way that we can, but it’s just a bittersweet feeling,” Buffalo Chief says.

Porter said the most important thing for people to do is to educate themselves.

For Buffalo Chief, her goal was to reach out and let Native women know that they can find help.

She says she is proud to be doing something that makes a difference for Indigenous women.

“It feels good,” Buffalo Chief said. “It feels really good.”

The Human Trafficking Hotline can be found here: human trafficking resources.

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