Women warriors take on domestic violence and sexual assault
From North Dakota to Arizona, strong, talented, accomplished Native American women are taking up the challenge of protecting themselves and their sisters, their mothers and aunts, their grandmothers and granddaughters, from the devastation of domestic violence and sexual assault.
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“Crimes against Indian women and children strike at the very heart of tribal sovereignty,” reads the 2007 Senate Indian Affairs Committee concept paper on law and order that identified domestic violence and sexual assault as one of the five critical areas in which law enforcement in Indian country was failing.
Following the release of the paper in November 2007, the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2008 was introduced in the Senate and the House July 23, 2008. The last action on the bill was Sept. 18, 2008, when the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held hearings. The bill didn’t pass and was reintroduced in the 111th Congress April 2. The Senate held a hearing on the proposed legislation June 25. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has scheduled another hearing for mid-September, and the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women is considering a Tribal Consultation Oct. 30 in Minneapolis.
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But in North Dakota, Linda Thompson and her colleagues at the First Nations Women’s Alliance and its member organizations are organizing themselves to be more effective in supporting – and healing – the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault on the four North Dakota Indian reservations.
“It’s often thought that young black men are the most victimized in the U.S., but it is actually Native women,” said Thompson, paraphrasing a statement in the Justice Department report, “American Indians and Crime.”
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In related news, Cangleska is experiencing some financial hardships, and has had to lay off some staff. If you can volunteer or donate time or resources, please consider them.
Embedded within each of the components of Cangleska, Inc. is the concept of sovereign women within a sovereign nation whose safety was paramount. With the Lakota principle of “we are all related” incorporated in all of the work, Cangleska, Inc. offers a comprehensive and collaborative approach on the local, state and national level.
The number of women and their children seeking shelter and other related services continues to increase. Women are now aware that there is safe space on the Pine Ridge Reservation and are using the services provided to them.
In addition to services for women and children, Cangleska also has family programs and services for men such as Ki Wicasa Wo Ohitika and a Men's Re-education Program.