Colorado Art Exhibit Stresses Connection Between Energy Industry And Violence Against Native Women

As thousands in Denver strike for climate action this week, they may notice conspicuous red and black dresses hanging up along a couple city blocks, intended to call strikers’ attention to the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and children.

"We have each dress hanging with [the victim's] names and their age if they're still missing or highlight that they’re deceased," said Renee Millard-Chacon, who is Diné and Azteca, as she was preparing to perform a traditional dance at the Denver climate strike on Friday.

Red dress with caption
Credit Julia Williams /
Red dress with caption

Millard-Chacon says the climate crisis can't be separated from the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women. She points to the large numbers of men brought in to work oil fields or pipeline construction sites in the Mountain West. That influx coincides with higher rates of sexual assault and kidnapping of Native American women.

"And there’s no policy protecting these specific targeted populations," Millard-Chacon said.

The dresses will be on display throughout the week of coordinated climate actions. 

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.