Original report here.
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.
Re “Broken Justice in Indian Country” (Op-Ed, Aug. 11):
N. Bruce Duthu rightly points to the need to restore tribal authority over cases of rape and sexual assault committed against Native American and Alaska Native women and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Senator Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota recently introduced legislation that would be a tremendous step in this direction. The bill should be strengthened in collaboration with tribal leaders and then passed.
It is also critical to ensure that all available forensic evidence is gathered promptly and correctly after these crimes are reported. Amnesty International researchers have found that often it is not.
Native women who report rape may not get a police response for hours or days, especially in rural areas. Many Indian Health Service hospitals lack personnel trained to provide emergency services to victims of sexual assault. If a rape kit is not administered or is administered improperly, the chances that the perpetrator will be brought to justice are greatly diminished.
Congress should help by increasing financing to ensure that there are enough police officers on tribal lands to respond to these crimes and that sexual assault nurse examiner programs are established in all Indian Health Service hospitals. Larry Cox
Amnesty International USA
New York, Aug. 12, 2008
From Sen. Dorgan’s office:
November 7th, 2007 – Over the past year, the Senate Committee on
Indian Affairs has held three oversight hearings, a series of
listening sessions, and multiple meetings with tribal leaders to
discuss the longstanding problem of violent crime in Indian Country.
Senator Byron Dorgan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian
Affairs, has developed a concept paper which has been sent to tribal
leaders. The concept paper, found here, is a compilation of comments
from tribal leaders that examines the problems and lists a number of
proposed solutions to law enforcement issues in Indian Country.
The Committee will continue to meet with tribal leaders over the next
few months in the development of legislation to address this issue.
For those who wish to provide additional comments, we invite you to
share your comments and ideas with us through our website. Please
click on the link below and share with us your thoughts on this
important matter. However, if you wish to submit any documents in
addition to your comments, please e-mail email@example.com
with both your comments and attachments. Similarly, you may fax the
information to (202) 228-2589.
The recent testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee regarding the possible Congressional reaffirmation of tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian domestic violence and sexual assault perpetrators — that we blogged about earlier — is now complete with the final version of Riyaz Kanji’s testimony on Congressional authority to take this action.
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee heard powerful testimony from Indian women last week on the pervasive problem of violence against women. Riyaz Kanji of Ann Arbor’s Kanji & Katzen testified that Congress has authority to extend criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians to Indian tribes, if it chooses.
The Amnesty Report that helped to jump start this issue in Congress is here.