New ABC Drama ‘Alaska Daily’ Highlights MMIW Crisis (2023)

New ABC Drama ‘Alaska Daily’ Highlights MMIW Crisis (1)

By Jenna Kunze

Tonight, a new network television series that centers on the inner workings of a scrappy Alaskan newsroom tackling complex Indigenous storylines will premiere on ABC at 10 pm ET.

The scripted show, Alaska Daily, follows an award-winning investigative journalist, played by two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who leaves her high-profile New York life behind to join a daily newspaper in Anchorage. Swank’s character is assigned to work alongside a young Alaska Native reporter, played by First Nations citizen Grace Dove (Secwépemc), to report on cold cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) in the state.

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Alaska ranks fourth in the nation for the highest number of MMIW cases—behind New Mexico, Washington and Arizona—according to a 2017 Urban Indian Health Institute study. In 2016, there were more than 5,000 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, but the US Department of Justice’s federal missing persons database only documented 116.

(Video) ABC's "Alaska Daily" Tackles the MMIW Crisis in America

“It’s time to bring the truth to light,” Swank wrote on Instagram on Sept. 14, promoting the show.

“This has been a lifetime in the making and I am so honoured to be a part of a very important story,” Dove wrote on Instagram leading up to the premiere. “Bringing awareness to #MMIW on network television.”

The show was created by Tom McCarthy, who co-wrote and directed the Academy Award winning film Spotlight about the Boston Globe’s investigation of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Curch.

In a recent interview with ABC, McCarthy said that he wasn’t able to explore the personal lives of journalists in Spotlight, where the focus was on “procedural” aspects of journalism.

“So I thought, man, what’s something I could do if I had an opportunity to make a TV show,” McCarthy said. “And I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting to really get to know who are these journalists, specifically involved in local journalism. … Can I humanize journalists? Can I get a sense of who they are and what makes them tick and why they do the work they do?”

The show was loosely inspired by a series produced by the Anchorage Daily News, Lawless, a two year investigation into the failures of the criminal-justice system in primarily Alaska Native communities across the state. The series won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2020. The series’ writer, Kyle Hopkins, worked as an executive producer on the show.

In addition to Native representation on real-life issues, the show was also created in part by two Alaska Native writers, Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiaq) and Vera Starbard (Tlingit/Dena’ina Athabascan). MacLean is a filmmaker whose debut film On the Ice premiered at Sundance in 2011 and won various awards. He’s now based in New York City teaching film at New York University’s Tisch. Starbard worked as a writer on PBS Kids animated children’s program with Alaska Native characters, Molly of Denali. She’s also worked as a journalist in Alaska for 20 years, currently serving as the editor to First Alaskans Magazine since 2013.

(Video) Eileen Meets the 'Concerned Citizen' - Alaska Daily

In an interview with KTOO radio , the two said that perhaps the most difficult part of their job was closing the learning curve on Alaska, Alaska Native history, and a sense of place to the dozen other writers they worked with over the past four and a half months in New York City.

“My dad and my uncle were unofficial parts of the writing room with how much I leaned on them,” Starbard said in the KTOO interview. Additionally, Starbard said it’s refreshing to see realistic issues that plague Alaskan Native communities represented on network television.

“It’s a difficult topic they’re tackling in the first season,” she said. “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women runs through every single epsiode, and that’s not unrelated to boarding schools. That’s a pretty foundational reason for the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

"I hope that people will be introduced to the issue—whether its Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women or it’s forced boarding schools—as most people I don’t think know about it across the country. That in itself is a good thing. People who are aware of it, I hope it will bring them [a look into] foundational reasons for why these things happen, as well as the excellence and the joy and the beauty of living in Alaska, as well.”

Alaska Daily premieres Thursday, October 6 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. New episodes will premiere weekly and stream on Hulu. To watch the show’s trailer, click here.

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New ABC Drama ‘Alaska Daily’ Highlights MMIW Crisis (2)

Author: Jenna KunzeEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(Video) In 'Alaska Daily,' Hilary Swank plays reporter on road to redemption

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Jenna Kunze is a staff reporter covering Indian health, the environment and breaking news for Native News Online. She is also the publication's lead reporter on stories related to Indian boarding schools and repatriation. Her bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Tribal Business News, Smithsonian Magazine, Elle and Anchorage Daily News. Kunze is based in New York.


Is Alaska Daily about MMIW? ›

ABC show Alaska Daily examines the real-life crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people through a fictional lens, bringing the issue into the public eye. But, for actor Grace Dove, the subject was not new, she told Newsweek.

What is the root cause of MMIW? ›

The root causes of the MMIW injustice include colonization and historical trauma, racism, and sexual objectifcation of Indigenous women and girls.

What is the MMIW movement? ›

MMIW stands for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It's a movement that advocates for the end of violence against Native women. It also seeks to draw attention to the high rates of disappearances and murders of Native people, particularly women and girls.

What is an MMIW Survivor? ›

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW)

Who was the first MMIW? ›

The legacy of violence against first nations women and children dates back to the early 1600s when Matoaka, a young girl of 11 or 12, was kidnapped from her tribe and taken to England. You may know her as Pocahontas, but she is commonly considered the first MMIW.

How many missing and murdered indigenous people are in the US? ›

In total, BIA estimates there are approximately 4,200 missing and murdered cases that have gone unsolved.

How many people go missing per year in Alaska? ›

On average, 5 of every 1,000 people go missing every year, roughly double the national rate. Since Alaska began tracking the numbers in 1988, police have received at least 60,700 reports of missing people. As everywhere else, most cases involve runaways who eventually return home or are found.

How do I stop MMIW? ›

Five ways you can put the 'calls for justice' from the MMIWG report into action
  1. “Denounce and speak out against violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people” ...
  2. “Decolonize by learning the true history of Canada and Indigenous history in your local area” ...
  3. “Develop knowledge and read the final report”
4 Jun 2019

Which hand is used for MMIW? ›

The word HOPE is inked on the fingers of her left hand, while MMIW adorns her right. The most powerful element is the red hand painted across her mouth and face like a giant slash, the universal symbol for the thousands of women gone silent.

Why do we wear red on MMIW day? ›

It has been said that red is a color that transcends the physical world and calls to the ancestors in the spirit world. For ceremony and pow-wow, Native Americans dressed their children in red as an introduction to the ancestors – calling upon them as guardians to the young.

Why is May 5 MMIW day? ›

Also known as Red Dress Day, May 5 honours the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, 2 spirit, and gender diverse people in Canada by encouraging learning and building awareness to end violence against Indigenous women, girls, 2 spirit, and gender diverse people.

Who are the stolen sisters? ›

Journalist Emmanuelle Walter spent two years investigating this crisis and has crafted a moving representative account of the disappearance of two young women, Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander, teenagers from western Quebec, who have been missing since September 2008.

What does the red dress symbolize? ›

Red dress day is a day of honouring missing and murdered Indigenous people. It's a day to raise awareness and education about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, two spirited, and men. The dresses are empty, so that they evoke the missing women who should be wearing them.

What does the red hand mean Indigenous? ›

A red handprint, usually painted across the mouth, is a symbol that is used to indicate solidarity with missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in North America, in recognition of the fact that Native American women are up to 10 times more likely to be murdered or sexually assaulted.

How many MMIW are there? ›


Strikingly, the U.S Department of Justice missing persons database has only reported 116 cases. The majority of these murders are committed by non-Native people on Native-owned land.

How many cases of Mmiwg are there? ›

By the numbers

This number includes 1,017 Aboriginal female homicide victims between 1980 and 2012, and 164 Aboriginal women currently considered missing. of these, there are 225 unsolved cases of either missing or murdered aboriginal women.

When was the final report of Mmiwg? ›

On December 8, 2015, the federal government announced the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) as a key government initiative to end the disproportionally high levels of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Where is the highway of tears? ›

The Highway of Tears is a 725-kilometre (450 mi) corridor of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert in British Columbia, Canada, which has been the location of many disappearances and murders beginning in 1970.

What was the biggest killer of the native population in the Americas? ›

When the Europeans arrived, carrying germs which thrived in dense, semi-urban populations, the indigenous people of the Americas were effectively doomed. They had never experienced smallpox, measles or flu before, and the viruses tore through the continent, killing an estimated 90% of Native Americans.

How many natives were killed by colonizers? ›

European settlers killed 56 million indigenous people over about 100 years in South, Central and North America, causing large swaths of farmland to be abandoned and reforested, researchers at University College London, or UCL, estimate.

Did Indigenous go to residential schools? ›

In 1920, under the Indian Act, it became mandatory for every Indigenous child to attend a residential school and illegal for them to attend any other educational institution.

What city in the US has the most missing persons? ›

The cities with the most missing people total include Los Angeles (189), Phoenix (170), Houston (165), San Francisco (163), and Detroit (150).
See the full list of missing persons by state below.
StateTotal Number of Missing PersonsMissing People per 100,000 Residents
49 more rows
18 Feb 2019

What state has the most missing woman? ›

In absolute terms, California has the largest number of missing persons at 3,010. However, California's rate of missing persons is roughly average, at 7.6 missing for every 100,000 people.

How can Indigenous people lose their status? ›

Losing Indian Status (Enfranchisement)

The process of losing one's Indian status for citizenship rights was called “enfranchisement.” Initially, any Indians who obtained a university degree and/or became a professional such as a doctor or lawyer would automatically lose their status.

Who was the first stolen sister? ›

Some Native women today consider Pocahontas one of the first of many “stolen sisters,” some of whose stories and names have been lost to history, while the families and communities of others continue to fight for justice.

What does MMIWG2S mean? ›

MMIWG2S – Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit. 4 out of 5. of our Native women. experienced some form of violence in their lifetime.

What does red dress hanging mean? ›

Métis artist Jaime Black began the REDress Project, an art installation, in 2010. Black gathered and hung hundreds of empty, red dresses to represent the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

Why do Indians wear red? ›

“In our culture, it means new beginnings, passion, and prosperity. Red also represents the Hindu goddess Durga, who symbolizes new beginnings and feminine power.”

What does a red painted hand mean? ›

The powerful image of a red handprint has come to symbolize the Missing Murdered Indigenous Women movement as a way to represent the thousands of women who have been silenced. Beyond politics and detective work, the handprint has found its way into art and fashion as a way to raise awareness.

Why are red dresses hanging in trees? ›

The on-going project began in 2010 and commemorates missing and murdered indigenous women from the First Nations, Inuit, Métis (FNIM), and Native American communities by hanging empty red dresses in a range of environments.

Why is red a no for weddings? ›

“Tradition dictates guests avoid wearing red out of fear that it could take attention away from the happy couple,” explains Hurwitz. “Visually, it's quite bold. In a photo, your eye is immediately drawn to the color, especially if it's next to neutrals like white, black, gray, or beige.”

How do you acknowledge a Red Dress Day? ›

Mention the names of those whose lives were lost and post information about those who are missing so that they may be found and brought to safety. Another act that is often done is wearing red, or hanging red dresses on trees to commemorate those who are missing, lost, or gone too soon.

Should I wear red on Red Dress Day? ›

The National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S) is widely recognized as Red Dress Day, and Canadians are encouraged to hang and wear red as a means of drawing attention to gendered and racialized crimes against Indigenous peoples.

When did the stolen sisters start? ›

Sisters in Spirit Vigils

In 2002, the Native Women's Association of Canada, Amnesty International Canada, KAIROS, Elizabeth Fry Society, and the Anglican Church of Canada formed the National Coalition for our Stolen Sisters, an initiative designed to raise awareness about the MMIW crisis in Canada.

What is the Indigenous story of the Three Sisters? ›

The maidens were in love with three brothers from the neighbouring nation of the Dharruk people, but marriage was forbidden by tribal law. The brothers were warriors and decided to take the maidens by force. Tribal war forced the Kuradjuri (clever man) of the Gundungurra people to turn the sisters into stone.

What is the story of the tree sisters? ›

The Three Sisters is the native legend of how the crops corn, beans, and squash came to be grown together in so many different native cultures.

Why is wearing red so attractive? ›

Studies reveal that red is the most attractive colour to both men and women but, curiously, the two genders are attracted to the same colour for different reasons. Women are attracted to men wearing red because, according to one study, it sends signals of status and dominance.

Why did Jaime black Choose red? ›

Black chose the colour red after conversations with an Indigenous friend who told her red is the only colour the spirits can see. "So (red) is really a calling back of the spirits of these women and allowing them a chance to be among us and have their voices heard through their family members and community."

What does a blue dress symbolize? ›

“It's dependable. It's reliable. It might cloud up, but we know it's there.” These positive connotations—dependability, constancy, loyalty—may explain why the hue was traditionally attributed to boys, as the qualities, should they stick, could commingle to create a strong, decent man.

Why did Indians put handprints on their horses? ›

A handprint meant vengeance against an enemy or, sometimes, indicated success in hand combat. Zigzags represented thunder that symbolized speed and stealth, or sometimes indicated harmony with the war spirits in the sky, who foretold Native victory on the ground.

Who are red Indians and why are they called so? ›

Native Americans who were living in North America when Europeans arrived there used to be called Red Indians.

Why did Native Americans paint their faces red? ›

Native American Face Paint Colour Meaning

For example, RED stood for power, success, fighting and hunting prowess. Additionally, because hunting and victory in war were essential to the tribe's survival, they also stood for joy and beauty. Iron oxides, roots, berries, beets, and ochre were used to make red face paint.

Who was the first Mmiwg? ›

The legacy of violence against first nations women and children dates back to the early 1600s when Matoaka, a young girl of 11 or 12, was kidnapped from her tribe and taken to England. You may know her as Pocahontas, but she is commonly considered the first MMIW.

What is the MMIW symbol? ›

The MMIW Red Hand

A red hand over the mouth has become the symbol of a growing movement, the MMIW movement. It stands for all the missing sisters whose voices are not heard. It stands for the silence of the media and law enforcement in the midst of this crisis.

What percentage of Canada is Indigenous? ›

In 2016, this proportion was 5.0%.
Indigenous population in Canada – Projections to 2041.
Proportion of Indigenous people in the total populationEstimated in 20165.0%
Projected in 2041Between 5.4% and 6.8%
Change between 2016 and 2041Increase
10 more columns
6 Oct 2021

Who is affected by Mmiwg? ›

First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people live with an almost constant threat to their physical, emotional, economic, social, and cultural security.

How many Truth and Reconciliation calls to action have been completed? ›

In the six years since, progress on the 94 Calls to Action has been mixed. As of October 2021, according to the CBC's Beyond 94 website, opens a new window, only 13 Calls to Action have been completed.

How many Indigenous people are in Canada? ›

The 2021 Census counted 1.8 million Indigenous people, accounting for 5.0% of the total population in Canada, up from 4.9% in 2016. The Indigenous population grew by 9.4% from 2016 to 2021, surpassing the growth of the non-Indigenous population over the same period (+5.3%).

What type of movement is MMIW? ›

MMIW stands for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It's a movement that advocates for the end of violence against Native women. It also seeks to draw attention to the high rates of disappearances and murders of Native people, particularly women and girls.

Do people still go missing on the Highway of Tears? ›

The cases involved in the project now ranged in date from 1969 to 2006. No new cases have been added to the RCMP investigation since 2006; however, young women still continue to experience violence along British Columbia highways.

Did they ever find the alphabet killer? ›

Although investigators interrogated more than 800 potential suspects in relation to the Alphabet murders, the perpetrator or perpetrators of the homicides was never caught, and the case remains unsolved.

Where was Monica Jack found? ›

A jury has found Garry Handlen guilty of the first-degree murder of a 12-year-old girl in 1978. The verdict was read aloud in B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon. Monica Jack was last seen in Merritt, B.C., while riding her bike in 1978. Her remains were discovered in the area 17 years later.

What day is MMIW awareness? ›

Also known as Red Dress Day, May 5 honours the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, 2 spirit, and gender diverse people in Canada by encouraging learning and building awareness to end violence against Indigenous women, girls, 2 spirit, and gender diverse people.

Has Alaska ever had a serial killer? ›

Edward Krause was Alaska's first known serial killer. There may well have been others before him, but the lack of documentation keeps them hidden from posterity. Krause's real name was Edward Slompke, and he first came to Alaska as part of an Army detachment in Wrangell.

Where does MMIW take place? ›

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) is an epidemic of violence against Indigenous women in Canada, the United States, and Latin America; notably those in the FNIM (First Nations, Inuit, Métis) and Native American communities.

What common grounds was girl kidnapped Anchorage Alaska? ›

Israel Keyes abducted Samantha Koenig from the Common Grounds coffee stand on Tudor Road in Anchorage, Alaska on February 1, 2012 and took her against her will to his white pickup truck that was parked across the street.

Who was the last person executed in Alaska? ›

Nelson Charles, a Native American man from Ketchikan, Alaska, was hanged on November 10, 1939, for sexually assaulting and stabbing to death Cecelia Johnson, his 58-year-old mother-in-law. Charles was the only person executed in recorded Alaskan history for murdering a woman.

What state has the highest crime? ›

What crime data does the FBI publish?
LocationProperty Crime Rate (2020)Violent Crime Rate (2020)
United States1,958.2398.5
48 more rows
6 Oct 2022

What city has the most serial killers in the world? ›

Washington DC has the highest rate of serial killings, with 25 victims per 100,000 residents. Alaska has the second-highest rate at 7 per 100,000; Louisiana comes in third with 6.5 serial killings per 100,000.

Was the Texas girl found? ›

The Houston Police Department tweeted late Sunday afternoon that Lincy Guitry was located safe and the suspect in the case, identified as 50-year-old Holman Hernandez, was arrested.

What was the red light district in Alaska? ›

Creek Street is known as Ketchikan's old red-light district. In the mid 1920's there were over 20 bawdy houses on Creek Street alone! In fact, Creek Street was once home to Ketchikan's #1 industry – prostitution. The prostitutes or 'working women' were frequented by men looking for a little company and some liquor.

What state is known for kidnapping? ›

The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of kidnapping and abduction victims reported in 2021 with over 14 thousand victims. Furthermore, there were more than 101 thousand kidnapping and abduction victims in the country that year.


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