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UM students honor Women's History Month by hosting events

Students in the environmental studies department at the University of Montana honored Women's History Month on Monday with two events connecting to women’s health concerns and issues women face.

Students in the environmental studies department at the University of Montana honored Women's History Month on Monday with two events connecting to women’s health concerns and issues women face.

The event kicked off with a Red Dress Workshop aimed at bringing awareness to the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women. UM students and community members joined togetherfor the workshop.

“It’s a really scary thought. I could be a target,” student Jordynn Paz said.

Paz says violence against women has happened right on her reservation.

“Two summers ago there was a woman from my reservation who was thrown from a moving vehicle and burned alive,” Paz said.

Many can share similar stories, which is why they are sewing red ribbons on skirts to spread awareness of missing and murdered indigenous women. Organizers say red is for memory of the women that were murdered and missing. The color is also sacred.

Men also support the cause.

“I grew up with all women, and the structure around both of my cultures is literally women. Our lives and our culture revolve around women; they are our backbone,” student Zachary Wagner said.

Organizer Willow Kipp says Montana is not immune.

“Indigenous women, just from this community alone, suffer from domestic and sexual violence or go missing. It’s important to raise awareness to this, because it’s so close to where we are right now,” Kipp said.

Many of these cases have not been solved, but spreading awareness is one step in the right direction.

In conjunction with the Red Dress Workshop, UM professor Rosalyn LaPier hosted a presentation on medicinal plants for women’s health.

LaPier discussed Montana native plants and how they are used for women’s health in different life stages including puberty, motherhood and menopause. LaPier says the subject is something more people should know about.

“Historically, native women would use plants as medicine. I think that it’s important for people to think about native plants as something that they should reincorporate back into their landscapes,” LaPier said.

Funds raised in both events will support the 50th Kyiyo Powwow's MMIW Awareness Dance Special, which will be held in April

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