Great Falls Tribune: Legislators honor Native American women

April 12, 2009

Legislators honor Native American women

By TRAVIS COLEMAN Tribune Staff Writer

Amnesty International statistics say Native American women are nearly three times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than any other group of women in the nation. Montana legislators kept those statistics in mind last week when supporting a joint resolution honoring Montana’s Native American women by trying to stop the violence against them. The joint resolution from the state Senate and the House of Representatives passed by large margins in both chambers. The resolution asks that legislators call upon federal, state and tribal officials to take action to stop domestic and sexual violence against the more than 27,000 Native American women in Montana. According to the resolution, that will be achieved through: · Working together to understand the nature and prevalence of violence against Native American women. · Supporting access to services for Native American women. · Providing adequate resources for additional criminal justice and victim prevention and intervention services. · Ensuring that the federal government investigates and prosecutes violent crime on Indian reservations. The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Carol Juneau, D-Browning, was filed with the Secretary of State on Monday. Juneau came up with the resolution after reading Amnesty International’s “Maze of Injustice” report that detailed how sexual violence against women from tribal nations is at epidemic proportions and that survivors are frequently denied justice. “I thought it would be good to have the state of Montana become more aware of the issue,” Juneau said, adding that the resolution could encourage others to take notice of the problem. Juneau said some Native American women are “falling between the cracks and their issues are being left behind” because they don’t know where to go to get justice among federal, state, tribal and county authorities. Juneau hopes that this resolution will spur action to address these jurisdictional concerns. “I’m hoping the resolution can be used as a vehicle to create some awareness and some communication between the various jurisdictions,” she said.