In the United States, violence against indigenous women has reached unprecedented levels on tribal lands and in Alaska Native villages. More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence, and more than 1 in 2 have experienced sexual violence. Alaska Native women continue to suffer the highest rate of forcible sexual assault and have reported rates of domestic violence up to 10 times higher than in the rest of the United States. Though available data is limited, the number of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women and the lack of a diligent and adequate federal response is extremely alarming to indigenous women, tribal governments, and communities. On some reservations, indigenous women are murdered at more than ten times the national average.
Statistics define the scale of the problem, but do nothing to convey the experience of the epidemic. They tell part of the story, but fail to account for the devastating impacts this violence has on the survivors, Indian families, Native communities, and Indian nations themselves. Native children exposed to violence suffer rates of PTSD three times higher than the rest of the general population. Nevertheless, the statistics make absolutely clear that violence against Native women is a crisis that cannot wait to be addressed.
The Center’s Safe Women, Strong Nations project partners with Native women’s organizations and Indian and Alaska Native nations to end violence against Native women and children. Our project:
• raises awareness to gain strong federal action to end violence against Native women and children;
• provides legal advice to Native women’s organizations and Indian nations on ways to restore tribal criminal authority and to preserve tribal civil authority; and
• helps Indian and Alaska Native nations and Native women’s organizations increase their capacity to prevent violence and to hold perpetrators of violence on their lands accountable.
We must act together to restore safety to Native women and children and to help Indian nations address the appalling cycle of violence in Native communities. The time is now.