February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. One in five tweens knows a victim of dating violence. (For citations to these and more statistics see Break the Cycle’s Dating Violence research available here.)

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center has a project called Native Love, designed to educate Native teens on this very real problem.

Native Love is defined by our traditional ways of caring for each other and values as Native peoples of respect, honor, kindness, family and compassion. Our NativeLove project encourages youth to rethink what Native Love means to them, and empower them to define healthy relationships for themselves This is with the aim of promoting non-violent, respectful, safe relationships among Native youth, their families, communities, cultures, & Nations

A link to the project can be found here

In addition, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has been publishing guest blogs by judges discussing a judicial perspective on the epidemic of violence among teens and the need for awareness of this problem from the bench. Judge Anne McKeig, White Earth member and state court judge, wrote about her observations of the impact of family violence on Native children and how some of these kids have eventually ended up in her court as victims of dating violence – unable to break out of the cycle of violence.

The need to address dating violence among Native teens is critical. Forty percent of suicides by Native Americans are committed by those between the ages of 15 and 24.[10] While the cause of suicide is complex, untreated trauma is a known factor. Addressing the problem is also not easy. The occurrence of violence among Native teens is complicated by many factors – lack of culturally appropriate resources, historical trauma, high rates of alcohol and drug abuse, poverty, and the normalization of violence within the culture, to name a few. The “system” is viewed by the Native community as untrustworthy and in many cases, has contributed to the historical trauma endured by Native American families. Courts must commit to building trust with the Native community; building relationships to engage in meaningful dialogue; and creating a welcoming and accessible presence for Native victims to obtain help. Without that commitment there will be no change.

Blog post available here

Walk in Support of Safety for Native Women During Dollar General Oral Arguments

A Call to Action!
Walk in Support of Safety for Native Women on December 7!

On December 7, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Dollar General case. The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) and the Monument Quilt Project will join together in front of the Supreme Court carrying quilt squares of the Monument Quilt.

“NIWRC and the Monument Quilt Project will walk in support of safety for Native women and sovereignty of Indian nations,” said Cherrah Giles, Board President, NIWRC. “We ask everyone to join our effort to oppose Dollar General. Non-Indian corporations and sex predators must be held accountable. Race should not be a license to prey on Native women and children.”

“We invite those concerned about justice and safety of Native women to create a quilt square to share their support for justice and stories of survival,” said Rebecca Nagle, Co-director of FORCE Monument Quilt Project. “Contribute your quilt square to the growing Monument Quilt. Let us walk together on December 7 and call on the Supreme Court for justice for Native women and children.”

***Mail your quilt square by December 1, 2015, to:
FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, Shame on Dollar General Campaign
2315 Homewood Ave., Baltimore, MD 21218
Please add a note stating the quilt square is being made to support Native women in the ”Dollar General case.”

Link to the full announcement here

Directions on how to make the quilt square here 

Safety for Native Women: VAWA and American Indian Tribes

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) has published a new book that traces the history of violence against Native women, legal barriers to protecting Native women, and a breakdown of VAWA provisions that impact tribes. Safety for Native Women: VAWA and American Indian Tribes is available on Amazon or through the NIWRC website.

In addition, the 12th Women are Sacred Conference will be held in Rapid City, SD, June 1-3, 2015. More information and registration will be available on the NIWRC web site here.

In Memory of Tillie Black Bear

Tillie Black Bear, a tireless advocate for Native Women, passed away Saturday evening, July 19. Tillie’s work inspired so many and our hearts are with all those she left behind.

NIWRC has made a documentary about the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society available on YouTube. Tillie was one of the founding mothers of this society.

Link to the video available here.

Miigwech for all that you did Tillie Black Bear

New Video Campaign on Ending Violence Against Women and Redefining Native Love

New Video Campaign on Ending Violence Against Women and Redefining Native Love

October 21, 2013

(Helena, Mont.) —  The Indian Law Resource Center and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) have launched the first videos in a new campaign to raise awareness of and help end violence against Native women and girls.

The campaign is two-fold, featuring a series of “Survivor Stories” with Native women who have experienced domestic and sexual violence as well as a series of videos on the theme of “Native Love” with Native youth expressing what Native love means to them and the changes they want to see in their communities.

“With one in three Native women raped in their lifetimes, creating awareness to end violence against Indian and Alaska Native women and girls is the first and foremost priority for this campaign,” said Jana Walker, Senior Attorney and Director of the Center’s Safe Women, Strong Nations project.  “The epidemic of violence against Native women and girls cannot be tolerated.”

The first survivor story released in the series features Sheila Harjo, the First Lady of The Seminole Nation and Councilwoman.  In the video, Harjo describes the eight years of abuse she endured by her former husband.

“I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor,” declares Harjo in the video. “I now have the opportunity to share my story and let people know it can happen to anybody. It’s not drunks. It’s not the poor people. It’s not the uneducated. It’s anybody.”

Harjo has been a driving force in helping The Seminole Nation establish a domestic violence program and shelter for abused women and their children.

The “Native Love” video series raises awareness about violence against Native women and girls and is aimed at empowering tribal members, particularly young people, to speak out.  Justin Secakuku, a member of the Hopi Tribe of Arizona, shares a Hopi tradition involving white corn, and its symbolism of the value of women to give and produce life.

“Women should be appreciated, honored, and loved,” says Secakuku in the video. “In the concept of Native love, we have to respect what women have to contribute to society as a whole.”

The Indian Law Resource Center and the NIWRC will release four survivor stories and four “Native Love” stories through the end of the year.  The videos and other online resources including posters, Facebook banners, a domestic violence toolkit, FAQs, and a guide on how to share the campaign, will be available at www.indianlaw.org and www.niwrc.org.

“We hope to stimulate and support a national dialogue about what Native love is — and what it is not — in order to create change that will help restore safety to our Native women and girls,”  said Lucy Simpson, Executive Director of the NIWRC.  “We encourage people to watch the videos, share them through Facebook and other social media channels, and help us create change.”

The videos were co-produced by the Center and Native filmmaker Ryan Red Corn, co-founder of Buffalo Nickel Creative.  Red Corn also produced “To The Indigenous Woman” which was released by the Center in October 2011.  For more information or to download and share the videos, visit www.indianlaw.org or www.niwrc.org.


About the Indian Law Resource Center

The Indian Law Resource Center is a nonprofit law and advocacy organization that provides legal assistance to Indian and Alaska Native nations who are working to protect their lands, resources, human rights, environment, and cultural heritage. The Center’s principal goal is the preservation and well-being of Indian and other Native nations and tribes.  The Center, which is headquartered in Helena, Montana, and has an office in Washington, D.C., has been working for justice for indigenous peoples for 35 years. For more information, visit www.indianlaw.org.

About the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) is a nonprofit organization that provides technical assistance, policy development, training, materials, and resource information for Indian and Alaska Native women, Native Hawaiians, and Native non-profit organizations addressing safety for Native women.  The NIWRC’s primary mission is to restore safety for Native women.  For more information, visitwww.niwrc.org.

Sliver of a Full Moon Performed at Women Are Sacred Conference

Sliver of a Full Moon is a portrayal of resistance and celebration. It is the story of a movement that restored the authority of Indian tribes over non-Indian abusers to protect women on tribal lands. Although thousands contributed to this victory, Sliver of a Full Moon follows the story of five Native women who took a stand and one Native man, Congressman Tom Cole, who stood with them to win this victory. The cast includes the Native women who stepped forward to publicly share their stories of abuse by non-Indians and counter staunch opponents to the tribal provisions including Diane Millich (Southern Ute), Lisa Brunner (White Earth Ojibwe), Deborah Parker (Tulalip), and Billie Jo Rich (Eastern Band Cherokee). Their stories are that of a movement with a vision of a full moon under which the sovereignty of Indian tribes is fully restored over their lands and peoples. Professional actors will join these women to portray the character of Congressman Tom Cole and that of Eastern Band Cherokee Councilwoman Terri Henry.

Press Release here.

Link to video of live performance here.

Previous VAWA coverage here.