On Tuesday, June 30, ESPN featured a sports documentary called Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible. This is based on Native American women and their plan of action to counter harsh treatment and gain respect, identity, and acknowledgment.
Frank Kipp founded and opened the Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club for the youth and young adults to keep them out of trouble and away from drugs and alcohol. The club and boxing has become a sort of refuge and outlet for them in the community, especially young girls and women who come to learn how to protect and stand up for themselves.
Kipp was a probation officer and a successful amateur boxer in his youth, so he wanted to bring the tragedy to an end by training people to defend themselves, including his daughter, Donna Kipp.
The club was founded in 2003 and has trained over 500 boys and girls. Some of them, including Donna, have gained national fame. She won a bronze medal at the 2015 Junior Olympic Nationals.
“I found my strength at the boxing club,” said Donna. “I gained confidence at the boxing club. And most importantly, I discovered my purpose at the boxing club.”
Donna said that she wanted to follow her father’s footsteps and make an impact in the community. “I want to help the young girls in our tribe. I don’t want us to be another statistic,” she said.
Due to coronavirus, the boxing club is currently closed. So, they have made a group chat that she leads where anyone from the club can express their feelings. Frank also encourages boxers to go for a run, do home workouts, or give him a call if anyone is ever feeling down or in need of someone to talk to.
During the documentary “Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women,” or MMIW, violence against these women is highlighted. The purpose of the movement is to increase awareness of violence they experience and the series of unfortunate events that are happening to indigenous women.
All the fighters in Blackfeet Boxing would write MMIW on their gloves. Donna has been writing that for the last four years, every single fight.
Violence Against Native Women
The Department of Justice revealed that Native American women were 10 times more likely to be murdered than non-native women, one in three of them have been raped, and more than 80% of them have experienced violence at some point in their lives.
The documentary revealed that in the past two years, 73 indigenous women and girls have gone missing in Montana alone. There have been multiple fatal accidents and murder cases on the reservation. The film mentions the disappearance of Ashley Loring HeavyRunner, who went missing in June 2017 and has not been found since.
Just like the Ashley Loring HeavyRunner case, numerous incidents of murder or missing people have been left unsolved. People outside of the Native American community are unaware of the unfortunate incidents that Native American women face. Although it is not something broadly talked about in media, it is important that we acknowledge the MMIW movement more, spread awareness, and take action in any way that we can.
The stories that the documentary covers are very touching, as well as persuasive. It goes beyond the message that Native American women are suffering. There is a lot more for us to learn about the people, their culture, and how they are dealing with these devastating cases.
It is impressive and hopeful to see them fighting and coming back from such catastrophes to show that they are capable of defending themselves and preserving their indigenous culture.