Campus event organizes community into action as missing Indigenous women is a top concern—all ages get involved with various social causes


NEVN Photography

The Red Hand symbol

Gabby Williams, Reporter

“The Social Cause Connection” is an event that happens each semester on the campus of Scottsdale Community College.

Students, faculty and staff organization members collaborate and focus on topics that need to be talked about and news promoted via various media channels and community involvement in order to help bring awareness and action toward vital issues.

Faculty member, Matthew Healy, is the event organizer and spoke to Northeast Valley News.  Healy says the takeaway from the multi-semester event is information, engagement, empowerment and education about social issues that many people in the community are simply not aware of.

Students are invited to become “ambassadors” and present and prepare their own spotlight of sharing about a social issue that they would like to address and then  formulate a plan to put their concerns into action.

“The goal is when the attendee leaves the event, they know exactly how they can go get involved to improve their community,” Healy said.

Unfortunately, one of the issues that is happening not only in our state, but nationwide, is the growing number of Indigenous women that have gone missing.

Scottsdale Community College is the only public community college located on tribal land and home of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community—the traditional lands of the O’otham, Piipaash and Yavapai peoples. The crisis of missing Indigenous women is of great concern to many people on the SCC campus and beyond.

American Indian Program Director, Ana Cuddingtion said there’s simply not enough attention being placed on what is happening to these women.

A 2016 report from the National Crime Information Center lists 5,712 separate reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls.

Cuddington expressed why she thought there were so many missing Indigenous women unaccounted for.

“Well, a lot of it is jurisdiction, because when you commit a crime on federal land if you’re not a Native then it goes to federal…so it goes to the FBI and it’s not a priority because of all the cases, so it just gets sort of lost in the shuffle and that’s a huge part of it,” Cuddington said.

Another concern for Cuddington is the fact that Indigenous women are missing in high numbers but too often go unreported and active investigations are slow or lacking—the missing Indigenous women and girls is a far higher rate in comparison to other missing women nationally. “That should go across the board.”

Northeast Valley News asked how the public and surrounding community could help and become more involved with this issue. “Advocacy is really important and we need the help to search,” Cuddington said.

At the spring event, a red-hand was seen displayed on various signs and fliers throughout the Indigenous Cultural Center.

A red hand over the mouth has become the symbol of a growing movement, the MMIW which stands for all the missing sisters whose voices are not heard. It also stands for the silence of the media and law enforcement.

Global hunger also addressed.

Another social cause important to the SCC community is hunger around the world.

Carolyn Patten spoke about the nonprofit organization she is involved with called, Feed My Starving Children.

Volunteers spend time at the area local facility where they prepare meals to send off to third world countries.

The meals provided by the nonprofit are healthy ingredients put together by nutrition scientists and include a mix of rice, vegetables, soy and minerals.

“We serve about 99 countries,” Patten said.

Feed My Starving Children also supports the unique cultures from the various countries they serve and encourage local artisan’s work to be sold in the U.S in order to earn a wage.

The Social Cause Connection encourages students, faculty and employees to showcase the issues they choose by getting involved in service related activities and showcasing issues that impact communities that provide an actionable way to get involved.

For more information on how to get involved, contact: