The three gold medals and one silver medal Rosalie Fish won at the Class 1B state meet weren’t just for her.
As she crossed the finish line with a red handprint over her mouth and the letters MMIW – standing for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women – in red paint on her leg, Fish wanted to represent the Native American women who couldn’t represent themselves.
The Seattle Times called violence against the group an “epidemic” that’s not being properly reported by police agencies, including when the women are murdered or go missing.
The Muckleshoot Tribal School (Auburn, Washington) runner is part of the Cowlitz Tribe, according to the Seattle Times.
The hand painted over her mouth stood for the women who couldn’t speak up themselves.
“This weekend was really not like anything I’ve ever done or ever felt before,” Fish said to the Seattle Times. “It’s the first time I ran for anyone other than myself. … This is the first time I’ve ever made a scene and not been apologetic.”
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This was a very emotional and very powerful weekend for me. I was inspired and supported by marathon runner and activist Jordan Marie Daniel to run for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. I dedicated my 1600 to Alice Looney, my 800 to Jacqueline Salyers, my 3200 to Renee Davis, and my 400 to Misty Upham. Wellpinit runner Gabriel Kieffer also donated a medal to Misty. I am honored by the families that allowed me to represent these women and I am blessed to be able to run for them. MTS King’s girl’s team placed for the first time (4th) at state championships with only three competitors. While my other two teammates are much younger than me, I learned a lot from them. I’m so excited to see what they do for MTS and Indian Country in the future.
Fish was inspired to do this when she saw Jordan Marie Brings Three White Horses Daniel run the Boston Marathon to honor the MMIW.
She reached out to Daniel.
“I was passionate about the issue, and I was passionate about running,” Fish said. “Jordan Daniel showed me that I can do both.”
Indigenous women are killed and trafficked at rates higher than the rest of the country’s population, according to the New York Times. On some reservations, there are murder rates 10 times as high as the U.S. average.
Since 2016, 506 Native American women have disappeared or been killed, according to Yahoo.
Fish brought a poster with photos of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women including Misty Ann Upham, Alice Looney, Jacqueline Salyers and Renee Davis and Davis’ unborn child to the meet over the weekend of May 25, according to the Seattle Times.
She won the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter races and got the silver medal in the 400-meter race.
Fish was also awarded the sportsmanship award after she cheered for other racers and brought other finishers water once she completed her own races.
She hung up her medals on her poster.
Then, Wellpint High School (Washington) runner and Spokane Tribe member Gabe Salinas-Kieffer came up and added his own medal to the poster as well.
“Nobody is going to listen to me. As a teenage girl nobody has to care what I say,” Fish said to the Seattle Times. “But when I run about it, people will notice.”