Indigenous Peoples and Domestic Violence
Another reason to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Native American Heritage Month: Native and Indigenous people are far more likely to experience violence. According to the Association on American Indian Affairs: American Indians and Alaska Natives of all genders are 2.5 times as likely to experience violent crimes and at least 2 times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault crimes compared to all other races.
The statistics are even more shocking for Indigenous women: More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime and homicide is the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women between 10-24 years of age.
The violence against the members of this community is heart-breaking, and the statistics only show part of the story. Not only are Native and Indigenous women more likely to experience violence, but they also face an increased number of barriers in receiving help. Some examples of these barriers include: a historical distrust of law enforcement; small, tight-knit communities that make it difficult to maintain confidentiality; geographically remote homes; language barriers; and service providers who may not be culturally responsive.
An important step that you can take to honor Indigenous people is to learn more! Active History has a list of 150 Acts of Reconciliation, ways to honor and reconcile the past. While targeted to people in Canada, many of the acts are things we can all do, like learn the land acknowledgement in your region. Use this upcoming Indigenous Peoples’ Day as an opportunity to educate yourself and begin to reconcile with the past, both on an individual and societal level.
Resources for Native and Indigenous People Experiencing Violence
There are some important resources to help Native and Indigenous people experiencing violence. We have included a couple below and hope you will share these in your communities.
StrongHearts Native Helpline is a hotline specifically for Native and Indigenous people. The website also has articles about prevention and the intersection of domestic violence and indigenous identities.
The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center provides national leadership to end violence “by uplifting the collective voices of grassroots advocates and offering culturally grounded resources, technical assistance and training, and policy development to strengthen tribal sovereignty.” You can also find out more information about tribal coalitions against domestic violence here: https://www.niwrc.org/tribal-coalitions.
Bookmarked: Indigenous Strength
This month’s "Bookmarked" theme is Indigenous Strength. Please take some time this month to learn more about the violence against Indigenous and Native People and how we can work together to end it. Indigenous strength and resiliency are incredibly powerful; the chosen readings highlight our theme and begin a conversation about Indigenous Strength.
This magazine was created by the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), and it's mission is to reflect "the grassroots strategy that by strengthening the sovereignty of Indian nations to hold perpetrators accountable, the safety of Native women will be restored.” Subscribe to get legislative, tribal, and international updates about sovereignty and safety.
By Katherena Vermette
“A Métis poet from Treaty 1 territory, Vermette wrote her first novel: The Break. It’s a heartbreaking and powerfully told story about a young Indigenous woman who is brutally attacked. Through the eyes of 10 narrators connected to the young woman, a deeper story is told about a family, a police officer, a young woman out of detention, and others in this wintry Winnipeg neighbourhood. Navigating racism, inter-generational trauma, and violence. The Break is a difficult read. But it’s also an important story about healing, love, and family.”
– Rudayna Bahubeshi, Program Manager at Canadian Women’s Foundation
Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
From the Publisher: “Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book, #Not Your Princess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible."
This article from Stronghearts highlights the relationship between colonization and domestic violence. It considers the legacy of violence and intergenerational trauma to explain the disproportionate violence that Native people experience.