We at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center have been busy bees this summer! We’ve been able to wind down a bit after our successful and well attended Women Are Sacred Conference in Albuquerque, NM in June. This September we watch to see if the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) will be reauthorized this year. Please read our policy post and share VAWA action cards, featuring the NIWRC Board and NCAI Task Force Co-Chairs on VAW, on your social media. We also excited to share the good news that NativeLove, NIWRC’s Youth program, has been refunded another year by Verizon! Keep a lookout for some youth-centered resources this next year from the NativeLove team.
In this 2018 Fall edition of Advocate! Beyond the Shelter Doors e-newsletter, you will find: a recap from the Women Are Sacred Conference in Albuquerque, information on upcoming fall awareness month activities, job postings from our sister organization StrongHearts Native Helpline, a wellness circle post “The Beauty of Bravery”, awareness updates for VAWA & MMIW, and a special spotlight at our Allies in Action with Michelle Demmert (of NIWRC’s Speakers Bureau, Shawn Partridge (of Muscogee Creek Nation Family Violence Prevention Program), Erica Tremblay filmmaking work and the passing of the late Ruth Oja (Victims’ Advocate for more than 27 years).
In the Featured Art section, we share documentary short “Indigenous Resilience in Montana”, by the Carnegie-Knight News21 journalism program. Nicole Walksalong knew something happened to her mother when a police officer showed up at her door. Are Native Women targeted for their race? Is resilience passed down through generations? The Featured Art section is where we share art forms as a means of social change including new documentaries or films, art exhibits and positive/uplifting projects connecting to preventing and healing from domestic or family violence. Suggestions welcome.
We would like to thank each advocate, each mother, each sister, each aunt, each daughter, each grandmother, and all the men who continue to support the movement to end domestic violence and for making NIWRC the valuable organization it is today.
Lucy Rain Simpson
Executive Director, NIWRC
September is National Recovery Month and National Campus Safety Awareness Month!
- Tuesday, September 25th: Wear Orange, take a selfie with your friends & post to social media tagging #NIWRCStrongHeartsand #UnitetoEndViolence in efforts to end violence against women internationally! This supports the UN Project: Native Women’s Empowerment group.
- REGISTER: Wednesday, September 19th-NIWRC Webinar “Building Girls’ Protective Assets in Indian Country: Intentional Girl-Centered Program Design.” The webinar will describe how the protective assets approach is being adapted for girls in Indian Country, and how you can join an initiative to help you build such a program in your own community. Protective assets are strengths and skills held by girls which can help them stay safer, weather a crisis, and better plan for the future. Protective assets can include: a strong female support network; a safety plan; knowledge of her people’s culture and history; having all identification documents she is eligible for; knowing how and where to apply for educational and social benefits; financial literacy; a starter savings account; and others. Girl-centered protective asset programs have been shown to help girls in different parts of their lives.
- Are you on a student campus? Sign up for a free webinar and explore resources to help your planning activities for National Campus Safety Awareness Month.
- WATCH: “Domestic Violence Safety Issues When Meth Is Present.” NIWRC Recorded webinar-May 17, 2017: Methamphetamine has been identified as one of the largest threats to public safety in Indian Country. Tribal sources have attributed it to higher rates of domestic violence, assaults, burglaries, and child abuse and neglect on reservations and in tribal communities. 74% of tribal police forces rank meth as the greatest drug threat to their communities; 40-50% of violent crime cases investigated by the FBI in Indian country involve meth in some capacity; and 64% of tribal police indicate an increase in domestic violence and assault/battery. The complex nature of criminal jurisdiction on Indian reservations, along with historically under funded and understaffed health care, treatment facilities and law enforcement have resulted in major challenges for tribes to address this problem.
- WATCH: NIWRC’s Webinar “Framing the Issues: Looking at the Opioid Epidemic in the Context of Trauma and Domestic Violence.” (Published June 2018) This timely and important webinar will provide an overview of what is known about the opioid epidemic and will focus on the specific concerns of Indian communities and tribal domestic violence programs and shelters. It will lay the foundation for the exploding opioid epidemic and will examine the intersections between trauma, domestic violence and the opioid epidemic and explore innovative approaches to addressing these complex issues.
- Wanting to plan a Recovery Month event in your community? Use this toolkit from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. A list of personal recovery stories are available in video here.
- Get Help through Alcoholics Anonymous is an Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.
- Get Help through Narcotics Anonymous is a global, community-based organization with a multi-lingual and multicultural membership. We offer recovery from the effects of addiction through working a twelve-step program, including regular attendance at group meetings. The group atmosphere provides help from peers and offers an ongoing support network for addicts who wish to pursue and maintain a drug-free lifestyle. Our name, Narcotics Anonymous, is not meant to imply a focus on any particular drug; NA’s approach makes no distinction between drugs including alcohol. Membership is free, and we have no affiliation with any organizations outside of NA including governments, religions, law enforcement groups, or medical and psychiatric associations.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)
- Monday, October 8th: Indigenous Peoples Day or Indian Solidarity Day
- Thursday, October 18th: Wear pink for Indigenous Pink Day, a national breast cancer awareness campaign for American Indians/Alaska Natives. The American Indian Cancer Foundation asks men and women of all ages to wear pink and share photos on social media using the hashtag #IndigenousPink to spread breast cancer awareness. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death and the most common cancer found in American Indian/Alaska Native women. The goal of Indigenous Pink Day is to educate all indigenous people on the importance of early detection and remind men and women to keep up to date on their screenings.
- Thursday, October 25th: Wear Orange, take a selfie with your friends & post to social media tagging #NIWRCStrongHeartsand #UnitetoEndViolence in efforts to end violence against women internationally! This supports the UN Project: Native Women’s Empowerment group.
- DOWNLOAD: “Safety Guide.” This brochure gives women a guide for enhancing their personal safety and that of family members, while outlining tactics of power and control over women. The Safety Guide is also useful in community education efforts.
- WATCH: NIWRC’s Webinar “Why Do Women Stay?” This webinar will address the multitude of factors that affect the safety and well-being of women and children living with domestic violence. This webinar will try to help society understand why we need to shift our focus from asking why women stay to asking “Why do men abuse women?”
- SHARE: Is your community hosting your own candle lit walk? Self-defense classes? Please share these photos with your views on how domestic violence impacts your community, and take a stand against domestic violence using the#ViolenceIsNotMyTradition hashtag!
- WATCH/SHARE: Domestic Violence Video Resource Highlights: 1. Buffalo Nickel Creative’s Tihirasa – Pawnee Nation Healing Center for Domestic & Sexual Violence , It Ends Where it Begins – Anti-Domestic Violence PSA and To The Indigenous Woman. 2. Native Daughters video NDV OmahaSecret. 3. LISTEN: NET News “An Epidemic Of Violence: Nebraska Native Women Struggle to Break the Cycle.”
November is Native American Heritage Month
- Saturday, November 25th-International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
- Saturday, November 25th: Wear Orange, take a selfie with your friends & post to social media tagging #NIWRCStrongHeartsand #UnitetoEndViolence in efforts to end violence against women internationally! This supports the UN Project: Native Women’s Empowerment group.
- Tuesday, November 27th-Give Back Tuesdays: https://www.givingtuesday.org/
- November is Native American Heritage Month, learn more at https://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/
- SHARE: Your organization or community is doing to celebrate Native American Heritage History Month and we’ll promote them on our social media accounts! Send your event to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center is searching for the next wave of Advocates and Advocate Shift Leads to help expand the StrongHearts Native Helpline team. Trained with a strong understanding of Native cultures and traditions, StrongHearts advocates provide culturally-appropriate, one-on-one support to callers affected by domestic violence and dating violence. As a national helpline, the StrongHearts Native Helpline (1-844-7NATIVE) offers confidential, anonymous and healing space for Native Americans to reach out for help and resources. To view the job announcements, visit the StrongHearts website at www.strongheartshelpline.org/about. Please share with your networks to help us spread the word!
Save The Date – Join StrongHearts’ DVAM Twitter Circle on October 25
In honor of Native DVAM, join the StrongHearts Native Helpline and NIWRC on Thursday, October 25, at 1 p.m. CST to connect with our relatives from across Indian Country and Alaska. Connecting with our Native DVAM theme – “Carrying Our Traditions Forward, Leaving Abuse Behind” – we want to hear from you! Use hashtags #DVIsNotTradish and #N8VDVAM to share what your true traditions mean to you! Everyone is encouraged to participate. Follow @StrongHeartsDV on Twitter for more details. Psst… don’t forget: October 25 is #PurpleThursday! Remember to wear purple all day and hashtag your photos of you and your team for DVAM!
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico – More than 500 attended the 13th Women Are Sacred Conference (WAS), one of the oldest and largest gatherings of advocates dedicated to ending violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and children, held this week at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town. The conference, presented by the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), will feature voices from across the country, including advocates, survivors of violence, law enforcement and court personnel, tribal leaders, as well as tribal youth.
This year’s WAS conference theme is: “Resilience: Walking in Ancestral Footprints, Carrying our Medicine.” This theme speaks to who we are as Indigenous peoples and our journey towards rebuilding our communities in a way that honors our ancestors’ sacrifices, hope and love for our traditions and people. It speaks to the many different traditions and nations we come from, what was taken from us, and how we can rebuild the fire from the embers that are still glowing. We have survived through our cultural strength, resilience and the Indigenous knowledge that we carry with us into the future – our ancestor’s medicine. As Indigenous people, we come from deep roots, and we need to nurture those roots in our movement to create social change and end violence across all our relations. With deep roots we cannot be washed away.
WAS is one of the oldest and largest gatherings of advocates, survivors, tribal domestic and sexual violence programs, community members, tribal leadership, law enforcement and tribal court personnel dedicated to ensuring the safety and protection of Native women and children. Presenters include emerging Indigenous leaders and experts in the movement to ending violence in recognizing that Native people are best able to address violence in our communities–“Carry Our Own Medicine.” Sessions offer training opportunities to help increase the capacity of tribal nations and tribal domestic violence and community-based programs to address violence in their communities, as well as address safety issues and provide resources for victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Updates on national policies and national issues will also be given and include – the Violence Against Women Act, Victims of Crime Act, Tribal Law and Order Act, Savannah’s Act, and more. Safety for Native women is vital in the national conversation due to the disproportionate rates of domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence that occur at alarmingly high rates. According to the National Institute of Justice reported more than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women (84.3%) have experienced violence in their lifetime, including:
- 1% who have experienced sexual violence.
- 5% who have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner.
- 4% who have experienced stalking.
- 4% who have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner.
Five years ago, Congress reauthorized VAWA, which is now set to expire in 2018. Speakers will offer updates on the upcoming VAWA Reauthorization and implementation of VAWA Title IX Sec. 901. Findings…”(6) the unique legal relationship of the United States to Indian tribes creates a Federal trust responsibility to assist tribal governments in safeguarding the lives of Indian women.”
Conference co-sponsors include the StrongHearts Native Helpline, Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, Mending the Sacred Hoop, National Congress of American Indians, National Center of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Indian Law Resource Center, Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center, Bureau of Indian Affairs Victim Assistance Program, Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition, Tewa Women United, Americans for Indian Opportunity, Tribal Law & Policy Institute, American Indian Development Association, Pouhana ‘O Na Wahine and the Hispano Chamber of Commerce.
Conference Highlights, by day:
Tuesday, June 26th: Conference attendees were encouraged to wear their traditional clothing to celebrate Indigenous roots and culture. Keynote speaker Taylor Sheridan, Writer and Director of the feature film Wind River, spoke during the opening session. Sheridan is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, Taylor Sheridan is currently writing, directing, and executive producing the upcoming series “Yellowstone” for the newly launched Paramount Network. A frontier family drama set on the largest contiguous ranch in the U.S., the project stars Kevin Costner, Josh Lucas, Luke Grimes, Gil Birmingham, and Kelly Reilly and will premiere on June 20, 2018. The Acoma Pueblo Traditional Dance was featured in the evening.
Wednesday, June 27th: Conference attendees were encouraged to wear red in remembrance and to promote awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across the United States. The NIWRC policy team has been working to ensure permanent designation of May 5th as a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIW). To help shed light on MMIWG, a local Albuquerque organizing collective of Indigenous Women is created an exhibit called “Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women Earring Project.” All Things Feminine Powwow will took place in the evening starting at 7:00 – 10:00pm.
WATCH: Mending the Sacred Hoop’s Live Facebook video of All Things Feminine Powwow-Women Are Sacred Conference
Thursday, June 28th: Conference attendees were encouraged to wear purple to support and raise awareness of domestic violence in tribal communities. Often victims don’t report the abuse because often there are no resources or access to services and speaking up can mean getting a loved one in trouble, challenging a powerful family, or having to endure victim blaming and shaming, and not being believed. We must work collectively to stop domestic violence – all forms of violence – in our communities.
DOWNLOAD: WAS Conference Materials
SOCIAL MEDIA: Check out #WAS2018 & #WomenAreSacred for individual posts!
WATCH: #WomenAreSacred video during Erica Tremblay’s session
WATCH: #TeamLove WAS Youth Track video created during the conference
WATCH; #TeamReal WAS Youth Track video created during the conference
*Non-Fed Funded Moment
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 2018 Reauthorization
On July 26, 2018, the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Bill was introduced in the House by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee. NIWRC has developed a social media campaign. Additionally, there are some social media hashtags that you can use from the National movement: #VAWA4ALL and #VAWA2018. If you tag NIWRC, we will retweet/re-instagram/repost! Because this bill includes needed protections for Native women, NIWRC will also be using #TribalVAWA and #VAWA4Natives.
DOWNLOAD: “VAWA 2013’s Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction Five-Year Report.” Five years ago, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013). In response to the high rates of domestic violence being perpetrated against American Indian and Alaska Native women by non-Indian men, and harrowing stories from victims whose abusers seemed out of justice’s reach, the law contained a new provision. This report summarizes how VAWA 2013’s landmark provision has been implemented and analyzes its impacts in the 5 years since it was enacted.
SHARE: VAWA Awareness Cards on social media! (NIWRC is also on Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest). The cards featured NIWRC Board members and NCAI Task Force Co-Chairs for VAW.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Leading up to Saturday, May 5th, 2018 the NIWRC ran a social media campaign and encouraged Native organizations to sign on in support of a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in the United States. The second National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls over social media campaign was successful, public gatherings included NIWRC’s Board of Directors member, Deborah Parker helping present on MMIW in Rosebud, SD, a MMIW march in Yakima Nation, Senator Heitkamp’s #NotInvisible social media campaign nationally, City of Seattle proclamation for MMIW day May 5th, Native Women in Film’s #WhyWeWearRed national social media campaign, Alaksa Native community and Organized Village of Kwethluk event & slideshow, and Native Hawaiian slideshow and many more!
SUPPORT: Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls DC Vigil. Tuesday, September 11, at 7pm at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (4th SW & Independence Ave SW) Washington, DC. Wear RED and/or traditional attire. Can’t go to DC? Please replicate with a group in your community!
EXPLORE: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Database by Annita Lucchesi. The MMIW Database logs cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people in Canada and the United States, from 1900 to the present. There are many lists and sources of information online, but no central database that is routinely updated, includes both Canada and the US, and thoroughly logs important aspects of the data, and overall, there is a chronic lack of data on this violence. The database works to address that need, by maintaining a comprehensive resource to support community members, advocates, activists, and researchers in their work towards justice for our stolen sisters. The database has been built and maintained by Annita Lucchesi, a Southern Cheyenne doctoral student. Annita is a survivor of domestic and sexual violence, and is doing her dissertation research on community projects mapping this data.
WATCH: Shawl Squares for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls in Pala, CA. In April 2018, the NIWRC collaborated with the Pala Band of Mission Indians, Avellaka Program & Rebecca Nagle on creating shawl squares with messages of protecting Native women and girls who go missing and murdered in the United States.
Allies in Action
The Department of Justice recognized Shawn Partridge, Director of the Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP) for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, with the National Crime Victim Service Award. This honor is awarded to individuals or programs for exceptional service to victims of crime. She was honored during the annual National Crime Victims’ Service Awards ceremony on April 13th, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
“The work that we’re doing here is tremendous with a group of strong women and men, who are responsible for our success out of everything we’re doing,” Partridge said. “So, they’ll need to be included and I look at it more as a recognition for our program as a whole.” Partridge was nominated for the program’s work and her efforts to provide services and support to not only Native victims, but non-Native victims, as well. Read more here.
WATCH: Office for Victims of Crime video on Shawn Partridge
Erica Tremblay (Seneca-Cayuga) was selected for Sundance’s 2018 Native Filmmakers Lab! As a documentary filmmaker and activist based in New York City, her projects have screened at numerous film festivals and her work has been featured on PBS and CNN. Tremblay’s films explore topics including violence against Indigenous women, restorative justice and issues impacting the two-spirit community. She has worked with many grassroots organizations, including the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Wica Agli and the Monument Quilt Project. In 2016, Tremblay was awarded a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship and she was recently honored as a 40 Under 40 Native American
During the Lab, Fellows work with a cast, crew, and supervising producer to shoot workshop versions of scenes from their short films under the expert creative mentorship of Program alumni and other established industry professionals and Program staff. The Lab encourages Fellows to hone their storytelling and technical skills in a hands-on and supportive environment. After the Lab they will receive targeted support from supervising producers, grants to fund the production of their short films and will attend the annual Native Forum at the January 2019 Sundance Film Festival for ongoing support on their projects. Read more here.
Ruth Oja — Ruth May Oja, 63, of Norway, died Wednesday, May 30, 2018.
She was born on Nov. 30, 1954, in Ishpeming, the daughter of Arleen (Pearce) and the late William Spencer Felt.
Ruth graduated from National Mine High School in 1972 and attended Northern Michigan University.
She was a victim’s advocate for more than 27 years, working for the Caring House, Delta County Alliance, and has been running the program at Hannahville Potawatomi Indian Community for more than 20 years. Her efforts have helped rebuild and empower countless women, helping them escape domestic violence situations.
WATCH: Indigenous Resilience in Montana (5:52) by Carnegie-Knight News21 is an alliance of 12 journalism programs that produce innovative in-depth content about ways America is changing. Nicole Walksalong knew something happened to her mother when a police officer showed up at her door. Are Native Women are targeted for their race? Is resilience passed down through generations?
The Wellness Circle
(Please note: triggers present, please read with caution but also with good energies)
There are many individuals that work in the anti-violence movement that are also survivors themselves (or are the friends/family of survivors). Across the board, we are all in a place to understand physical, emotional, psychological, cultural/spiritual, etc. violence and knowing what being triggered means (by-proxy or by experience). “Speak Your Mind, Even If Your Voice Shakes.”
Yes, that one can resurface and feel real even years after a bad experience. While perspectives, untrue gossip that precedes us, perceived challenges that become pseudo-fact sharing, prejudice/pre-judging, heavy workloads, passing the torch of tasks, limitations of capacity, disagreements, or unknowns about another person’s workload can be triggering or might even lead to relationship hardships where there has been no “communication” or “confrontation”. The anti-violence movement is full of this, the work is crisis and crisis work is hard. Our identities as advocates is promoting and providing mechanisms for healing and safety for survivors. While doing the work this sometimes happens: we come across those bad times where we feel hurt doing the work.
Hurt by actions, words, isolation, work flow, the list of options goes on and on. How does violence within the anti-violence movement mimic the experiences of survivors is a great question we are not always “brave” enough to speak out loud.
In wellness trainings, it has been identified in many parallel ways. For me as an individual, in times I was abused- sticking up for myself was gearing up in the midst of extreme fear and vulnerability, heart racing and bounding, hands trembling, shrinking in fear as I intended to “stand up”. Even after years and years of healing work, standing up for oneself can feel the same: to face adversity or to address a “pickle”, issue, or challenge we might face in the work can be lead to extremely vulnerability and be difficult to do. We all want to move forward in good ways, so that we honor the strong and beautiful leaders that come before us: “Treat Each Other As Relatives”. In order to do so, that sometimes means not harboring challenges but instead coming forward with all our bravery to speak our feelings (could feel like fear and vulnerability, heart racing and bounding, hands trembling, shrinking in fear as we intended to “stand up”). Just like “survivordom” we have masks to wear (the ones that we wear in public after an assault, or covering up our hardships; We know the masks by wearing them or supporting a marginalized survivor who has to wear them). In the beautiful diversity that is the human race, people present themselves in the way they can in their healing process. Some of us may be “blunt”, “look confident”, “sorry not sorry”, or maybe quiet, heartfelt, intimate and soft, some may bite or snark…. We never know the “hows” and “whys” of each of the diverse ways we confront or address challenges. One recipients “trigger” may be one person’s delivery “mask” that circumstantially just creates awkward communication that just isn’t landing in the healing intention both people had the goal to accomplish. What is even worse, is when masks are worn in public for a public persona or perception, and then in private someone is mean spirited- or opposite, dismissive in public and kind-hearted in private where no one can see or understand the perception goal. Kindness is King. Quality is Queen. We are each valuable and worthy.
The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) is participating in the AmazonSmile, with exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization.
NIWRC is committed to ending violence. NIWRC’s vision is to restore the safety of Native women by upholding the inherent sovereignty of Native nations and building the capacity of Indigenous communities. Through public awareness and resource development, training and technical assistance, policy development, and research activities, NIWRC provides leadership across the Nation to show that offenders can and will be held accountable and that Native women and their children are entitled to: 1) safety from violence within their homes and in their community; 2) justice both on and off tribal lands; and 3) access to services designed by and for Native women based on their tribal beliefs and practices.
You can help!
- Online shopping with Amazon: Go to smile.amazon.com to begin your online shopping with Amazon. Select a charity tab, enter “NIWRC” in the ‘pick your own charitable organization. Hit Search. Select button for National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. Click box next to “Yes, I understand that I must always start at smile.amazon.com to support National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.” Click “Start Shopping” button. Do your online shopping and qualified items contribute a small percentage towards NIWRC, Thank you!
- Forward this email and postcard on to friends, family, and colleagues to inform that NIWRC is on AmazonSmile.
- Spread the word by using the attached postcard on social media with #GivetoNIWRC.
May Creator bless each and every one of you during this wonderful season of giving, giving back and giving thanks!
To learn more about donating to NIWRC: