January 30, 2023

Rosalie Fish, a social welfare major at the UW School of Social Work, has packed a lot into the last few years. She has proven herself on the track field at UW Athletics, and is a 2022 recipient of a Truman Scholarship – one of only 58 students selected nationwide for this prestigious award. A member of the Muckleshoot and Cowlitz tribes, Fish plans to graduate with a BASW in June 2024.

A native of Auburn, Fish uses her running to raise awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. At track meets, she is hard to miss, often running with a red handprint prominently painted across her face and mouth – the nationally recognized symbol for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement.

Using her athletic platform, Fish has become a prominent advocate to call attention to this national crisis. Murder is the third leading cause of death for Native women, and researchers estimate that about 94% of Indigenous women and girls will experience violence at one point in their lifetimes.

A study of 71 cities by Seattle’s Urban Indian Health Institute created a snapshot of MMIW cases nationwide in 2017. The data ranked Washington second among states in the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women. In April 2022, there were 114 missing Native American women in Washington state, a number disproportionate to a state where Native Americans make up less than 2% of the population.

The attention is starting to create change. In March 2022, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that created the first-in-the-nation statewide alert system for Indigenous people, similar to an Amber alert. Advocates hope the new law will establish resources and processes for missing and murdered Indigenous women and their families.

Read more about social work student Rosalie Fish and the MMIW crisis in the following news stories: