Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ráchael A. Powers, Ph.D.

Committee Member

George W. Burruss, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael J. Lynch, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bianca Fileborn, Ph.D.


Indigenous activism, social media activism, intersectional social movements, victimization


The current study examined the context of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Movement (#MMIW) in the context of activist engagement, media representations, and public awareness and beliefs related to the movement. The present study framed the movement within the context of social movement theory, intersectionality, and feminism, to determine the applicability of these frameworks in explaining an Indigenous social movement. While the use of social media to facilitate and mobilize social movements is not a new phenomenon, limited research has examined the functionality of online social movements, particularly in the context of movements concerned with intersectional identities. Research highlights, however, that online social movements have the potential to influence public opinion, particularly when they are sustained over time and have widespread exposure and mobilization (Weeks et al., 2015; Donks, 2004). Three separate methodologies were used to examine the movement, including a social network analysis of online Twitter activists, a content analysis of media representations of #MMIW, and a survey of public beliefs related to #MMIW and use of social media. The findings highlight the lack of activism engagement and exposure to the movement outside of Indigenous communities, particularly in the context of social media and mainstream media coverage of the movement. Further, exposure to #MMIW and having a more diverse online network impacts support for the movement and Indigenous concerns more generally. Implications of the studies are presented, particularly related to the need for future research to identify ways in which Indigenous activists and community members may be better supported within their work and the need for more culturally-specific models of social movement and feminist perspectives.