Rosalie Fish’s success at the Washington State Class 1B track meet took a backseat to the message she helped spread. (Tyler Tjomsland / Spokesman-Review)
Even without the three gold medals, one silver medal and the sportsmanship award she earned at the Class 1B state meet in Washington, Rosalie Fish would’ve been impossible to miss when she took to the track in late May.
This was by design and it worked as flawlessly as her strides against the competition at Eastern Washington University’s campus.
Fish, a member of the Cowlitz Tribe and a senior at Muckleshoot Tribal School, dedicated her performance at the meet to the murdered and missing indigenous women — a group that’s been gruesomely attacked and grossly overlooked. With a red hand print covering her mouth and lower half of her face, along with “MMIW” written in red paint on her leg, the message was loud and clear.
Fish was reportedly inspired to spread awareness through her track meets after seeing Jordan Marie Daniel run the Boston Marathon in honor of MMIW, according to the Seattle Times. After the two connected via social media, Daniel encouraged Fish to use her platform to further the message.
“I was passionate about the issue, and I was passionate about running,” Fish told the Seattle Times. “Jordan Daniel showed me that I can do both.”
According to the United States Department of Justice, indigenous women on some reservations are 10 times more likely to be murdered, and rates of indigenous women being killed or trafficked are significantly higher than the rest of the U.S. population. The Justice Department has also found that one in three Native American women have been raped or experienced an attempted rape while 506 indigenous women have disappeared or been killed in the United States since 2016.
Fish wanted to make sure those numbers, and the faces behind them, weren’t forgotten.
Both her message and her runs were impossible to ignore. Fish placed first in the 1600-meter race as well as the 800 and 3200.
As her high school career comes to close, Fish has no plans to give up running. She will attend track powerhouse Iowa Central Community College next year. The Tritons have earned 15 championships in men’s and women’s track and field since 2010 in both indoor and outdoor classifications.
“I wasn’t sure about college. I’m not a great student,” Fish said. “I’m not excelling, I can struggle a little bit sometimes. [Iowa Central coach Dee Brown] told me I have potential and he wants me to run. I said running is the only thing I like in school, so if I can do that in college, that might make it pretty bearable.”
Wherever running takes her, she knows she’s competing for more than just herself.
“As a Native runner, it goes without saying you run for Native people,” Fish said. “You have to realize you represent Indian Country. Nobody is going to listen to me. As a teenage girl nobody has to care what I say. But when I run about it, people will notice.”