The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) is excited to kick off our new digital Advocate! Beyond the Shelter Doors newsletter for 2016 (Digital newsletter will be mobile-device user friendly). This winter edition includes: updates on our new staff members, board of directors positions, our NativeLove Challenge youth winners, the Quilt Walk for Justice campaign, an opportunity to apply for IT Specialist to join the NIWRC staff, awareness months coming up and information on our fundraising efforts in our VAWA Sovereignty Initiative (NIWRC needs the support and investment of Indian Tribes to see this Initiative through in order to protect the rights and lives of Native women).
We are introducing a Featured Art section to the newsletter in which we share art forms as a means of social change including; new documentaries or films, art exhibits and positive/uplifting projects connecting to domestic or family violence. Suggestions welcome!
As always, we are grateful to be a part of our shared continued work in such a robust and fulfilling movement.
Lucy Rain Simpson
Executive Director, NIWRC
In The News
Mark your calendars for
February 2016 is Teen Dating Awareness Month
Thursday, February 25th: Wear Orange, take a selfie with your friends & post to social media tagging @NIWRC in efforts to end violence against women internationally! This supports the UN Project: Native Women’s Empowerment group.
- Monday, February 29th: Join the #YouthLeaders Twitter Chat 7pm EST/6pm CST/4pm PST. This chat will highlight youth-led social justice efforts at the intersections of oppression & violence. Follow the discussion & participate by tweeting with the #YouthLeaders hashtag on your Twitter account <RSVP here>
- Checkout our NativeLove Facebook page, we’ll have daily facts, NativeLoveIs videos, photos, articles & events to sign up for!
- Use #NativeLoveIs on your social media to let us know what you think Native Love Is via sentence, photo, or short video!
- Sign up for our E-mail blasts to get updated on NIWRC sources (webinars, training opportunities) all month long
- Be apart of the conversation! Message email@example.com with your community’s planning & we’ll help you promote it!
March 2016 is Women’s History Month
- Nominate an Inspiring Native Woman from your community & we’ll add to our Facebook album promoting her story on all our social media platforms! Send short 2-3 sentence bio, photo & relevant link to firstname.lastname@example.org. Women can be from your tribe’s history or current role model.
- Sunday, March 20th: is National Native American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Check out out social media accounts to learn facts, photos to share on your page!
- Friday, February 25th: Wear Orange, take a selfie with your friends & post to social media tagging @NIWRC in efforts to end violence against women internationally!
- In March, we’ll share the free downloadable curriculum, videos, photos from the Native Daughters: Oklahoma magazine & website articles. Articles & lesson plans profile Native Women leaders, artists, musicians & athletes from the state of Oklahoma.
- Watch & learn more about the late Wilma Mankiller, the first Chief of the Cherokee Nation in the film The Cherokee Word for Water.
Cherrah Giles is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) and of Cherokee descent. She is Fuswvlke (Bird) Clan and from Rekackv (Broken Arrow) Tribal Town. She served over 10 years on the Muscogee (Creek) National Council where she had been the youngest female elected to the National Council to-date and first female elected as Second Speaker.
Cherrah received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Oklahoma and currently works for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation as Secretary of the Department of the Community & Human Services, overseeing twelve of the Nations service programs. Cherrah currently serves on the Board of Directors for Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless and Iron Gate Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry. She is co-founder of the Mvskoke Women’s Leadership, member of All Tribes Community Church, Tulsa Indian Club, Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women, Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa and Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations. In 2014, Cherrah was named an “Unsung Hero” by The Mary Kay Foundation for her leadership in and advocacy for domestic violence awareness.
Cherrah has striven to be a positive and effective leader throughout her service to her tribal citizens. As a mother of four children and professional social worker, she views her leadership responsibilities to her Nation and community as an extension of her role as a parent and career woman. Cherrah believes in being accessible, visible, and active with her family and her greater Indian community with equal importance and attention. Cherrah lives in Jenks with her husband Justin and her children, Tafv, E’tya, Russell and Ridge.
Carmen O’Leary is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. She has worked toward ending violence against Native women professionally and as a volunteer since 1988. In 1988, she began working in the field as a Children’s Advocate in a shelter, at which she held various other positions over the years. During that time, she served as a co-chair for the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and as a consultant for the Center for Offender Management, Mending the Sacred Hoop, National State Courts and Sacred Circle- National Resource Center to End Violence Against Native Women.
O’Leary currently serves as the coordinator for the Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains, a tribal coalition whose membership consists of Native programs, providing services to women who experience violence, across the northern Great Plains. Her areas of expertise include civil protection orders, children’s issues around domestic violence, and advocacy training for the areas of sexual assault and domestic violence. Other areas of service include: school board member, part time Tribal Magistrate, member of the local Indian Child Welfare Board, the local tribal Child Protection Team, founding member of the Okiciyapi Oti Habitat for Humanity, and current licensed lay advocate for the Cheyenne River Courts.
O’Leary takes pleasure in the occasional rodeo and pow wow, but is happiest at home with her children, family, friends, horses and cows. The changing seasons and openness of the Plains keeps her grounded and enjoying life.
Leanne Guy has been married to her high school sweetheart for 26 years. Together they have five children and two granddaughters. Guy is an advocate for social change and justice and is passionate about the work to end violence against Native women and children. Growing up in a violent home and being a survivor of bullying, she is aware of the impact that violence can have on families and the importance of having coordinated and informed systems in place that provide advocacy, support and justice for the safety of women and children.
Guy is the founding executive director of the Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition, the first statewide tribal domestic violence and sexual assault coalition in Arizona. Prior to her current position, she was the executive director of the Ama Doo Alchini Bighan, Inc., a nonprofit, community-based domestic violence and sexual assault services program located on the Diné Nation. Through this work, she has been a member of numerous national, state and local task forces, committees and coalitions dedicated to ending violence against women and children. She has also worked for the Indian Health Service and other nonprofit agencies in the area of women’s health, cancer and HIV/AIDS.
Guy has over 15 years of experience in tribal community health promotion and public health and safety initiatives. One of the many blessings she has received in working with tribes is getting to know the people—hearing their stories, observing their customs, seeing their land and sharing their food. In her spare time she enjoys writing, reading, traveling, making jewelry, sewing, being active and spending time with her family. She has always known that her work would be in helping Native American people, so to be immersed in the movement to end violence against Native women and children is a blessing and honor.
Wendy Schlater is an enrolled member of the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians. She was born, raised and lives on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in the Palomar Mountain range located in northern San Diego County and has served her Tribe in several capacities, including as the youngest Tribal Chairwoman.
Currently, Schlater serves as Program Director of La Jolla’s Avellaka Program addressing safety for Native women on her Reservation. In this capacity, she led the La Jolla Native Women’s Advisory Committee to organize the first annual Sexual Assault Awareness Walk in 2010. In both 2010 and 2011, the Walk had over 250 participants, an activity that helped the entire community gain awareness about the epidemic of violence against Native women in their community.
Schlater is also a member of the San Diego County Sexual Assault Response Team Committee and a Tribal Subcommittee member of the Violence Against Women Act Committee. She has experience serving as an on-call sexual assault advocate for the rape crisis center in San Diego County and a victim advocate for the Peace Between Partners Program at the local Indian Health Council. She was a founding Board member of a non-profit tribal coalition, the Strong Hearted Native Women’s Coalition. Throughout her career, she has advocated for tribal youth, health, education issues and safety for Native women, developing innovative ways to create Tribal responses and programs respective of Native customs and traditions.
Princella Parker RedCorn, is an enrolled member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, her Omaha name We’tawi means ‘Victorious Bird’ and she is from the Bird Clan. She is excited to help serve and work for the NIWRC as Communications Officer.
RedCorn has volunteered with various Native community organizations in Nebraska in outreach campaigns. She has a BA in Broadcast Theatre from Creighton University and MA in Professional Journalism from University of Nebraska. She has a passion for storytelling and has work experience with documentary, photography and short video. Before joining NIWRC, RedCorn Co-produced a 60-minute documentary “Medicine Woman” that will be coming to PBS later this year, about Native American women healers past and present. Click here to watch a short segment from ‘Medicine Woman’.
RedCorn looks forward to developing strategic plans for the NIWRC to ultimately help and be of service to those in Indian Country dealing with domestic violence.
Amber Real Bird – Bends, is an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe of Montana, her Indian name is Iitchiwee Itchiish (Good Story Teller) given to her by her paternal grandmother Agnes Pretty Weasel. She is a member of the Bad War Deed Clan as well as a child of the Greasy Mouth Clan. Amber is married to Keene Bends and they have three wonderful children. They reside on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation on their family ranch.
She received an Associates of Science Degree from Miles Community College and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT. She has held several jobs both on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations with her background mainly in Accounting and Finance.
Not only is Amber excited to be part of the NIWRC team as a Logistics Coordinator, she is extremely excited to be part of an organization that is designed to enhance Native Women empowerment. She looks forward to helping the organization in any positive way that she can.
Diane Spotted Elk is Northern Cheyenne and African American. Her Cheyenne name is Thunder Women and she was raised on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation by her mother, aunts and grandmothers. She is the mother of eight and grandmother of nine.
Spotted Elk worked for the school systems and for the past 10 years for the tribe as a domestic violence advocate. As a survivor, she found it rewarding to assist women and children to find a place of safety. She looks forward to learning more about national issues relating to domestic violence in Indian Country and appreciates what the women are doing at NIWRC. She is honored to be a small part of such an organization.
“Ne ya ish” (Thank you!)
We heard NativeLove is Respect, Taking Care of One Another, Proud to be Indigenous, Being Comfortable with Who You Are, and Trust.
The 2015 NativeLove Youth Challenge received hundreds of entries; the top five national voted entries were from across Turtle Island. The winners include Eric Woody (Navajo), Willie BullBear (Lakota), Mark Renville (Lakota) and Nicole Lucero (Navajo). NativeLove Challenge Winners poster
The NativeLove Top Winner is Kristen Butcher from Cahuilla Nation! Kristen is Lakota of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and an enrolled member of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Nation in Thermal, California. Faith Morreo, Kristen’s mother shared:
“She (Kristen) serves on her Tribal Youth Council of Torres Martinez. Kristen is a champion teen jingle dress dancer as well and believes in keeping her traditions and culture alive! She is learning to speak fluent Desert Cahuilla, as taught by her grandmother, Christina Morreo. She also is a champion teen bird dancer, of our region in Southern California. We are so pleased to hear the great news that she won the NativeLove Challenge!”
Each winner will choose a trip of their choosing from our NativeLove’s Native Pride Events list with flights, hotels and registration fees covered for the winner and an accompanying adult. So far our winners are going to the Denver March Powwow, The Native American Music Awards (NAMMY’s), Washington, DC Cherry Blossom and Museum Tour, Gathering of Nations Powwow, a Shoni Shimmel Atlanta Dream Game. Be on the lookout for additional updates from their trips.
The NativeLove project reached thousands of youth at two national conferences, awareness month tribal events, powwows, community suicide prevention walks and memorials, tribal councils, tribal police, 6 schools: Pine Ridge, SD; Sisseton, SD;, Native LifeLines, Baltimore, MD; Rapid City High’s Ateyapi Program; Chemawa School, OR;, and Emmonak, AK. NativeLove also reached events such as Gathering of Nations; the MT Indian Higher Education Conference, Lakota Arts Festival, SD; National Youth UNITY Conference, DC, as well as visits to the Kaw Nation, OK; Pechanga/Pala and Six Bands of Luiseño Indians, and Seminole, FL.
We continue to work with youth and educators to share in a bright future in communities and continuing NativeLove as healthy love in 2016! Please contact email@example.com, http://nativelove.niwrc.org or Facebook page for opportunities or more information.
On December 7, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the ‘Dollar General vs Mississippi Band of Choctaw’ Case. In this case, the Dollar General Corporation has asked the Supreme Court to strip Indian Tribes of all civil jurisdiction over non-Indians.
As apart or our VAWA Sovereignty Initiative, the NIWRC, in collaboration with the Monument Quilt Project, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture (“FORCE”), National Congress of American Indians, the Indian Law Resource Center and other tribal grassroots movements around the country, demanded justice for Native women and children and the inherent right of their Tribal Governments to protect them. Hundreds of people walked in front of the United States Supreme Court Building to send the message of “No to Dollar General” and “Tribal Jurisdiction Equals Justice and Safety.” Hundreds more joined the campaign by hosting local events and through social media.
WATCH the video below to see participation from grass roots organizations at working with NIWRC in the Nation’s Capitol last January:
“Regardless of what the Supreme Court does today, this movement will go on. We will retain and reclaim sovereignty of Native nations.” Melissa Pope, Chief Judge, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi.
The amicus brief filed by NIWRC and joined by 105 organizations that share its commitment to end violence against Native women presents the legal argument for why tribal jurisdiction is essential to the safety of Native women. The social justice actions across the nations represented the national voice and moral conscience for the justice system to do the right thing.
“Our tribal governments pre-date the United States Constitution. We are not inferior. Our tribal governments have been here for thousands of years and know how to protect our people and others who come onto our land to live with us,” said Mary Kathryn Nagle, Co-author of the NIWRC amicus brief and staff attorney at Pipestem Law Firm. “To say that we do not have jurisdiction over other people who come onto our tribal lands—people who are raping and assaulting and killing us—because we are inferior is just wrong.”
Visit our Facebook Page for more VIDEOS, PHOTOS and UPDATES from the walk!
Allies in Action
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Sovereignty Initiative, launched in the fall of 2015, is well underway with the filing of three amicus brief in cases under review before the United States Supreme Court. The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) and Pipestem Law joined forces to establish the Initiative with the goal of defending the constitutionality and functionality of all VAWA tribal provisions. The Initiative is the NIWRC’s next step forward in defending the 2013 VAWA reauthorization and other important advancements in federal law and policy related to the protection of Native women and children.
“We hope that through the VAWA Sovereignty Initiative to protect the legal and policy gains we have achieved through VAWA,” said NIWRC Board President Cherrah Giles.
What NIWRC has done so far:
On October 22, 2015, the NIWRC filed an amicus brief (filed by a party not involved in a particular litigation but allowed by the court to advise it on a matter of law or policy directly affecting the litigation) in Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in the United States Supreme Court. In this case, the Dollar General Corporation has asked the Supreme Court to strip Indian tribes of all civil jurisdiction over non-Indians. Dollar General has argued that civil and tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians violates the United States Constitution.
On January 25, 2016, the NIWRC filed an amicus brief in support of the United States Department of Justice, asking the United States Supreme Court to affirm the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Voisine v. United States. Collectively, the NIWRC and fellow amici urge the Supreme Court to uphold the application of federal firearms prohibition to individuals who have been convicted of domestic violence crimes against Native women.
On February 1, 2016, the NIWRC filed an amicus brief to support the United States’ position in the U.S. v. Bryant case. The brief argues that Congress did not intend to make the application of the habitual offender provision dependent on whether the defendant in the underlying tribal court domestic violence conviction received assistance of counsel. It further advocates that federal courts have no authority to dictate to tribal governments how they will treat their own members in their respective tribal courts.
Watch a recent webinar: on U.S. v. Bryant to learn more details about the case
What NIWRC would like to do:
Because many tribes lack adequate resources to assess all of their legal vulnerabilities in implementing VAWA, a national Sovereignty Initiative is necessary to protect VAWA and tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians nationwide. NIWRC has launched a fundraising campaign to support the VAWA Sovereignty Initiative and will in partnership with Pipestem Law Firm monitor all cases related to VAWA nationwide to ensure nothing relevant is missed. NIWRC has significant history working in collaboration with the attorneys at Pipestem Law and is confident that the firm has the skills, expertise, and commitment necessary to prepare for the defense of VAWA and tribal sovereignty.
Please support the VAWA Sovereignty Initiative:
- Contact Executive Director Lucy Simpson (LSimpson@niwrc.org) for a funders portfolio if you’d like more information
- Share this page widely with your tribal leaders and organizations.
- Share this page on your social media accounts urging others to support.
You can make tax-deductible contributions payable to “NIWRC Sovereignty Initiative” & mail to PO Box 99, Lame Deer, MT 59043
Thank you for your support! We look forward to keeping you updated about our progress and accomplishments in this important fight for Indian country.
In celebration of February’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month we’d like to share the story of Danelle Smith.
Smith has carved out an amazing career as an attorney against seemingly impossible odds. A member of the Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) Tribe of Nebraska, Smith became pregnant as a teenager and decided to go to tribal college, sometimes taking her baby to class with her. She raised her three boys as a single mother while continuing her education, eventually earning a law degree. Fueled by passion for her family and a drive to succeed no matter what, she’s living proof that you don’t have to leave home to find success.
- READ more about Smith, Danelle Smith uses the Law to Fight for her People, from the Native Daughters Journalism Project.
- WATCH a webinar by NIWRC-“Native Teens: Meeting Them Where They Are & Promoting Their Leadership” (This webinar focuses on efforts to engage Native youth in becoming part of the solution to ending violence in their communities.)
- Contact Communications Officer Princella RedCorn at firstname.lastname@example.org to suggest featured art from your community!
The NIWRC is currently seeking qualified candidates for the following position:
Position Title: IT Specialist
Closing Date: Open until filled
Scope of Position and Summary: The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Inc. (NIWRC) seeks an IT Specialist position to install, modify and make minor repairs to personal computer hardware and software systems, and provides technical advice and support to system users.
Our main office is located in Lame Deer, MT on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, and a second office will be located in Tulsa, OK. We are an equal opportunity employer offering an excellent salary. Salary is commensurate with experience.
Employment application and job announcement below: