Obama Signs Act to Empower Native Americans to Fight Rape

One in three Native American women will be raped at least once in her lifetime. And that’s why President Obama’s signing of the Tribal Law and Order Act today is so vital. Tribes will now have the right – and the resources – to investigate and prosecute rapes perpetrated by non-Natives on tribal lands.

For 500 years, rape has been used as a tool of conquest and an act of war against Native women. It carries with it all of the perverted power of violence that every rape survivor endures, with the added yokes of colonialism and cultural annihilation.

Sadly, not much has changed.

One in three. At least once.

Think for a moment about the implications. We know that rape survivors are often reluctant to report the attack, for fear of not being believed; of being told that they “asked for it”; of being humiliated and shamed; of reprisals.

But in Indian Country, rape survivors bear additional burdens. They must report their crimes to federal law enforcement authorities, whom long and hard experience has told them to distrust. Cultural sensitivity is often nonexistent. Often, the law enforcement officers, investigators, prosecutors and health examiners are white men, and for many Native women cultural traditions may militate against talking to them about such intimate matters. So when you read that one in three Native women will be raped at least once in her lifetime, you can be assured that those numbers are underreported at even greater rates than in the general population.

Here’s a little context:

• Native Americans are more than twice as likely, compared to all other ethnic groups, to experience some form of sexual assault.

• 90 percent of Native women who report being raped also report being physically battered in other ways during the rape, compared to 74 percent of rape survivors in the population as a whole.

• 50 percent of Native women report experiencing other physical injuries in addition to the rape itself, compared to 30 percent in the population as a whole.

• 34 percent of Native women report that a weapon was used during the commission of the rape-a number more than three times that of the general population.

• While most rapes occur within racial groups, this is not true for Native women. More than 86 percent of the offenders are non-Indians, and more than 70 percent are white.

This last statistic matters a great deal.

Because until today, Native women raped by a non-Indian assailant had virtually no recourse. With rare exceptions, only federal law enforcement authorities have had jurisdiction to arrest and prosecute non-Native offenders on tribal lands. And historically, federal authorities have cared little about such cases: Federal authorities routinely decline to prosecute more than 50 percent of all violent crimes committed in Indian Country; the rate of declination is much higher for sexual assault cases.

Today that will change. The Tribal Law and Order Act will substantially expand tribal jurisdiction over non-Native offenders for crimes of sexual violence, and providing desperately needed resources to tribes to help them prosecute such cases. Introduced in 2009 in the House by Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD) and in the Senate by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), the legislation is a watershed in tribal law. Provisions include:

• Deputizes tribal police to arrest and prosecute non-Natives who commit crimes on tribal land

• Provides tribal police with access to National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and other federal databases containing criminal records and other information

• Requires the Department of Justice to maintain records on all declinations and to share that information, as well as any evidence, with tribal authorities

• Requires federal officials to turn over to tribal authorities any documents and testimony that may aid tribal court prosecutions

• Raises the maximum sentence that tribal courts can impose on an offender from one to three years

• Provides tribal police with targeted training in evidence collection and interviewing of sexual and domestic violence survivors

• Requires the Indian Health Service (IHS) to implement consistent protocols at all facilities for treating sexual assault survivors

• Reauthorizes and enhances programs to support tribal police, courts, and corrections programs

• Provides programs for at-risk young people on reservations.

Is it perfect? Of course not. But it’s an enormously important first step.

Today, we who have worked in our Native communities with survivors of sexual violence have reason to celebrate. Come and dance with us.

NOTE:  This post first appeared at Ms.blog, the blog of Ms. Magazine, here.

Rape Crisis on Indian Reservations

Vanguard’s “Rape on the Reservation” premieres on Current TV on Wednesday, June 2 at 10/9c.

One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. Correspondent Mariana van Zeller travels to Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota where sexual assault and violence against women has escalated to murder. What happened to 19-year-old Marquita, and how can the reservation’s understaffed police force keep it from happening again?

(I helped with this…)  

The Myth Of Tribal Sovereignty And Why Twice As Many Native American Women Are Raped

( – promoted by navajo)

Diarist’s note- This was originally published at DailyKos and is my first diary here…if I have gotten anything wrong, leave me a comment and I will correct it.

Under American law, the various tribes of the Native Americans are supposed to be sovereign nations. The reality however, is something far less. The Nations are only entitled to govern themselves. This may sound like a trivial distinction, but other sovereign nations can enforce their laws against citizens of other countries.  The Tribal Nations are not given this power. So, the Nations must rely on state and local governments to prosecute crimes committed on their land.

The local response to crimes on reservations is, at best, neglect. This lack of cooperation has led to Native American women being twice as likely to be raped as American women as a whole. Generally, 1 in 6 American women have been the victim ofrape. So, 1 in 3 Native American women has experienced rape. If you are as angry about this as I am right now, follow me over the jump.

The SCOTUS, in 1978

ruled in Oliphant v. the Suquamish Indian Tribe that tribal governments have no criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians. When a crime is committed, tribal police and their non-Indian counterparts must hash out whether the suspect is Indian or not.

link

If a Native American man walks into the mini-mart and steals a carton of cigarettes, [Tribal authorities] can arrest him. If a non-native man commits the same crime, [Tribal authorities] would let him go and forward a report to the U.S. attorney’s office.

link

More than 86 percent of rapes against Native American women are carried out by non-native men, most of them white, according to the Justice Department. And despite this fact and the fact that the Tribal Nations cannot prosecute these claims, “a 2003 report from the Justice Department found that U.S. attorneys take fewer cases from the BIA (Buruea of Indian Affairs) than from almost any other federal law-enforcement agency.”  

So, kossacks, what can we do? Keep reading for contact information and legislation that could make a difference.

Idaho is currently considering a bill that would seek to change this situation by allowing tribes to prosecute crimes if the local authorities refuse to do so.

Here’s the contact info for the Idaho Senate and House.

But fixing the issue in one state is not enough! We need federal reform that would allow Tribal governments to prosecute any crime committed on Tribal land. One possible solution has been introduced in the Senate. It is called the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 .  The summary of the bill is:

Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 – Amends the Indian Law Enforcement Reform Act to make a variety of changes to increase Native American tribes’ law enforcement powers and increase federal powers and responsibilities regarding crimes on Indian land, including: (1) allowing federal officials, with the consent of the tribe, to investigate offenses against tribal criminal laws; (2) providing technical assistance and training to tribal law enforcement officials regarding use of the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) database; (3) requiring federal and local officials, when they decline to investigate crimes on Indian land, to report to Native officials and requiring such officials, when they decline to prosecute, to turn over evidence to Native officials; (4) establishing in the criminal division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) the Office of Indian Country Crime to develop, enforce, and administer federal criminal laws in Indian country; (5) authorizing, at the request of a tribe, concurrent federal-tribal jurisdiction; (6) authorizing grants to state, tribal, and local governments that enter into cooperative agreements, including agreements relating to mutual aid, hot pursuit of suspects, and cross-deputization; (7) requiring the Attorney General to allow tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) law enforcement agencies to directly access and enter information into federal criminal information databases (under current law, such access is limited); and (8) increasing the criminal sentences tribal courts may impose.

Unfortunately, the bill has been collecting dust since it was placed on the legislative calendar in October. The House appears to have a similar bill, which is languishing in committee. Please consider contacting your senators and the members of the House Subcommittee on Crime Terrorism, and Homeland Security Membership to urge them to get this legislation moving again and passed into law.

Attorney General Eric Holder has promised reforms and that U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will “work closely with law enforcement to pay particular attention to violence against women in Indian Country and make these crimes a priority.” link.  You can contact the Office of the Attorney General at (202) 514-2001 to remind him of this promise.

I would like to personally thank all of you who will read, comment and/or take action on this diary. As a survivor of rape, and sexual assault advocate I know the trauma that goes along with rape…but I cannot begin to imagine the additional traumas faced by Native Americans because of the additional legal burdens placed upon the prosecution of their rapes. No one should have to live through this. Thank you for taking a stand on this issue.

Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross Posted at Native American Netroots

 An ongoing series sponsored by the Native American Netroots team focusing on the current issues faced by American Indian Tribes and current solutions to those issues.

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Expose: Lawless Lands (on Indian Reservations)

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Expose: Lawless Lands

DEBORAH AMOS:

At the Justice Department, recent scandals have dragged public confidence to an all time low. A special prosecutor is now digging into charges that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales put political partisanship ahead of the law.

Jodi Rave investigates crimes against Native American women

I swore I’d never repeat this, but read this first.


Expose: Lawless Lands

DEBORAH AMOS:
 

Because of a strange tangle of laws, because of historical precedent, the Justice Department is responsible for investigating and prosecuting major crimes on most reservations. But as the DENVER POST reported in an award-winning investigative series, law enforcement in Indian country has become quote “dangerously dysfunctional.” The “Post” depicted a place where terrible crimes are committed, investigations bungled, and prosecutions rare. The result: Indian reservations, already some of the poorest and most crime-plagued communities in America, have become what one Navajo official calls “Lawless Lands.” Our colleagues at Expose bring you that story. It’s narrated by Sylvia Chase.

I went to a ceremony in South Dakota seven years ago and was helping get wood, and that’s all I’m going to say about that part. Anyway, an officer was there to participate and helping get wood with me. He told me what a fellow officer said to him before he left after he’d told his fellow officer where he was going and what he was going to be doing.


Expose: Lawless Lands

CHUCK MURPHY:

Indians are not getting the same justice system that you or I get in Denver, or in New York, or in Boston, or Kansas City, or anywhere else. That, to me, is the most egregious element of this. Is that an entire class of people, based on where they live, is not getting the same services that you and I get.

He said his fellow officer said, “Be sure to get you some of that good Indian p—-.”

Maybe that’s what the rapists tell themselves, who go to the reservations to rape. Maybe the people who hate so much that they want just to hurt someone go to the reservations, because they know they won’t get caught, and tell themselves something similar. I don’t know what they tell themselves, but I’m sick and tired of it to the marrow of my bones.

The officer there to participate told his “fellow officer” to shove it or words to that effect, and that’s what the Justice Department needs to tell these violent offenders – shove it, or go to jail when you act on it.

Read more from Michael Riley at the Denver Post entitled “Promises, justice broken.”

Lets Honor Joe Biden’s Family Like this

( – promoted by navajo)

Yesterday, Clammyc’s diary on the Daily Kos If not for Biden, she (and many other women) may be dead, which is about Biden’s authorship of Violence Against Women Act and a wrenching case of domestic violence from the 1970s, gave me an idea.



Since the Violence Against Women Act is what funds women’s shelters, among other things, and since Senator Biden just lost his mother-in-law, Bonny Jean Jacobs, why don’t we purchase a furnace for the Pretty Bird Woman House shelter in her memory?

Considering that Sarah Palin wants Alaskan women to buy their own rape kits and is against abortion even in case of rape or incest, and John McCain’s pathetic record on women’s issues buying Pretty Bird Woman House a new furnace also draws a stark contrast between our values, shared by the Obama/Biden ticket, and the McCain/Palin horror show.  

So what do you say? Are you in for say $5.

So, in gratitude for Biden’s work for women’s causes, lets honor his family and thank him for his authorship of the Violence Against Women Act by buying a furnace for a women’s shelter in Bonny Jean Jacobs’ name.

A furnace is the only big ticket item Pretty Bird Woman House still needs and it will run about $5,000 (we’ve already jumped up to over $700 of that) – the  board didn’t notice that the furnace was in poor condition when it purchased the house. Since winters in South Dakota can get to 20 below, pretty soon they’re going to really notice how poorly the furnace is working.

So, what do you say? Can you ChipIn something in the Biden family’s name? Even $5 is great, since we have so many people in this community.

I’ll have the shelter send an acknowledgement to Senator Biden when it’s all over.  

Pretty Bird Woman House Needs a Coat of Paint +

( – promoted by navajo)

This diary is an update on the Pretty Bird Woman House and a request for a few small donations. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this project, it’s a women’s shelter on the South Dakota side of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that the netroots came together to help in its time of need.  

Anyway, the shelter has been operating for about a month, and wonderful things have been happening since they closed on the house in February.

One exciting development has been that many members of the McLaughlin community have gone from being suspicious to being supporters. That’s one reason we’re raising money right now: a youth group from a local church as volunteered to paint the house.

More below the fold.

The Pretty Bird Woman House is Up and Running!

As I said above, the shelter officially opened for business about a month ago.

Despite the fact that they haven’t been able to get the fence up due to an incredible amount of inclement weather, it has been full.  Until the fence is installed (which it should be by the end of the month) the staff are taking women who feel that their spouses might stalk them to another one farther away. The security system was installed a while ago, so the women who do stay at the house are safe anyway. The local police department has also been increasing its patrols around the house.

In April, Pretty Bird Woman House also co-sponsored a domestic violence workshop for all residents of the reservation, which was the first time something like that has happened there.

In addition to being extremely successful as a conference, afterward two  elder women approached Georgia with the idea of doing talks at local schools on what love really is and developing self-respect, so the girls especially don’t think they have to put up with any kind of abuse. This group is still in the planning stages, but I thought it was a wonderful indication of the ripple effect that the shelter can have on the reservation.

A couple of weeks ago, a youth group from local church approached Georgia with an offer of volunteer time this summer. As you will see from the photos below, since the house is sorely in need of a coat of paint, she asked them to paint it.

Even Georgia was was surprised at how badly the paint is peeling when she took a closer look at it.

peeling paint

Photobucket



The youth group will be painting the house July 8th – 11th.

Since this church doesn’t have affluent members, and therefore can’t send housepaint along with their kids, I have started a fundraiser for the paint and painting supplies.

So far we have $175.01. To buy about 20 gallons of paint and brushes, scrapers, etc., I figure we’ll need about $800 more. That’s only 80 people giving $10 each, or 40 giving $20 each. I know people have been stretched thin by donating to the campaigns and $4 a gallon gas, but this is really just the price of a bottle of wine. So how about it?

You can donateat the ChipIn page here,or by clicking the ChipIn widget at the Pretty Bird Woman House blog here

A few more words about community support

As some of you might remember, when the Pretty Bird Woman House board was in the process of buying the house, the City of McLaughlin, which is a non-Indian town in the middle of the Reservation, passed an ordinance mandating that all non-profits that were sheltering people get a permit first. This was in response to problems with a homeless shelter, but it also affected the PBWH. The first Town Council meeting was tense, and comments by a few Council members seemed to have racial overtones. We were worried. I diaried that here.

However, afterward the Mayor and Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD) came out publicly in support of the shelter. By the next meeting, the Council made a 360 degree turnaround, and unanimously approved the permit for the shelter.

All of that made me wonder how the community would respond afterward.

When Georgia told me what has been going on, I felt as if she were telling me about some Disney movie.

The first time they needed their lawn cut, a woman from the Lutheran church, which had been the owner of the house, came over and mowed it herself.

The next time it needed to be cut, the MAYOR himself showed up on his riding mower. Heh heh, when’s the last time your mayor cut YOUR lawn?

And, then we had the youth group volunteering to help as well.

So, let’s buy some house paint!

Go here.

Since more than 1,000 people donated to the first fundraiser, I figure this one should be a cinch.

Another subject: anybody have any advice?

Since I started this project, everything I see turns out to be an illustration of a larger problem.

Georgia is having such severe back pain now that a doctor at a private clinic suggested she go on disability. Why? The Indian Health Service is refusing to approve a CAT scan or any other diagnostic test so the doctors can tell exactly what is wrong with her. Is it a disc issue, or arthritis, or something worse? If we leave it up to the IHS, she’ll never find out.

Because the IHS has refused to either permit her to be properly diagnosed or send her to a chiropractor, or give her the proper amount of pain medication Georgia finally went to a private clinic, where at least they would give her an x-ray (don’t know the results).

Just as bad, the IHS will only give her a prescription for a few pain killers at a time. That means that she has to drive 2 hours to the IHS office, or put up with more pain. If she doesn’t get proper medical attention soon, she might not be able to walk, in which case she might have go on disability anyway. Since Georgia lives for her job, that would be terrible on a number of levels.

I know some of you will have some expert opinions I can pass on to her.

I wanted to say “another WTF moment brought to you by George Bush,” but it’s just typical IHS behavior.

So the larger issue is the IHS’s terrible medical care. We can see how local doctors recognize that Medicaid and Medicare both provide better service. How can we let this go on?

I advised Georgia to call Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin’s office to see if one of the LAs there can help. The Congresswoman has been so supportive of the shelter, even buying it a washer and dryer, that I’m sure they’ll  help.

Can anyone else think of something else Georgia could do to get proper medical care?

What she had wanted to do was get Aflac or some other type of supplementary health insurance for the entire shelter staff just for these types of things, but their federal grant doesn’t cover that cost. She’s going to apply for a foundation grant for that, but that’s a crap shoot sometimes.

So, if anyone has any ideas, let me know, and I’ll pass them on to Georgia.

Again, thanks so much for all your support. Now I wish we could also help Georgia get some decent medical care.

And, don’t forget. The shelter needs a new coat of paint. No contribution is too small not to be greatly appreciated. You can contribute here.

If you like to shop, think shampoo and diapers!

Pretty Bird Woman House Update: Why Isn’t Anything Easy in Indian Country?

(crossposted on the Daily Kos and Street Prophets under betson08 and Docudharma under PiledHigherand Deeper – I guess I have an unstable identity!)

I want to update everyone who has been involved in the Pretty Bird Woman House fundraiser on the situation with the house purchase.

After you read this you might also ask: Why isn’t anything easy in Indian Country?

While we were running this fundraiser, the City Council of McLaughlin, which exists as a separate entity within the boundaries of the Standing Rock Reservation, passed an ordinance requiring that any nonprofit wishing to establish a boardinghouse or shelter in a residential area get the approval of the City Council first.

This means that  even though Pretty Bird Woman House could have closed on the house on January 4th, they had to wait for a Council meeting on January 7th.

Everyone was certain that after hearing about the shelter, the City Council would just say “of course you can” to their request.

Not so.  

Unfortunately, Georgia Little Shield, the shelter director, was attending a mandatory federal training associated with their new grant, so she was unable to go to the hearing. However, six representatives of PBWH and neighboring shelters did attend, including Jackie Brown Otter and a lawyer from the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Someone from the Lutheran church, the owner of the house the shelter bid on, also attended in support of the shelter.

The new ordinance that is affecting the shelter was passed in response to complaints about the men residing in a homeless shelter in another neighborhood, since they were making nuisances of themselves. While I can’t blame the residents for wanting drunken men off of their lawns, the measure does seem draconian in relation to the size of the problem it sought to address.

In general, reports from people who attended the meeting indicated that the ratio of support to opposition on the Council was about 60/40. Instead of voting on it that night, however, they decided to take the full 30 days allowed by the ordinance, and have another hearing.

The problem they are having, which has definite racial overtones, generally seems to stem from the fact that some of the members of the community could not conceptually distinguish between a homeless shelter, which houses men with emotional and drug problems, and a women’s shelter, which houses women who are escaping abuse, and want nothing more than a safe place to stay and to be as unobtrusive as possible. This is quite the opposite of a homeless shelter.

One reason for hope for a positive resolution was that Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth publicly came out in favor of the shelter in a recent Rapid City Journal articleabout the shelter. By the way, that paper also carried a very nice article about the shelter and the netroots fundraising efforts, which you can see here.

The Congresswoman seems to have become a champion of this cause, and programs to assist domestic violence victims in Indian Country in general. Kudos and applause to her!

And, without trying to dictate to the city council, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., nonetheless has made it clear that her heart is with the shelter as it searches for a permanent home.

“I’m not going to get involved in that (council vote),” Herseth Sandlin said earlier this week. “But I do hope that our efforts in making greater resources available to those isolated reservations will be a factor in the decision making — to know that a member of their congressional delegation is paying particular attention and wanting to be partners in their effort to have a safer community.”



Herseth Sandlin visited the Pretty Bird Woman House twice last year and supported Congressional bills with additional financial resources for law-enforcement and domestic-violence programs on reservations.

But she went further. The article notes that after visiting the burned shelter back in October:  

…Herseth Sandlin returned to McLaughlin with Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, as well as congressional staffers. They stopped by the shelter apartment, which had by then been abandoned, and met with federal and local law-enforcement officials, shelter representatives and Dumdei.

After the visit, Dicks inserted language into an omnibus appropriations bill expressing his concern that “methamphetamine use, violence against women and other serious crimes have reached epidemic levels in certain areas of Indian Country,” and directing the Bureau of Indian Affairs to increase the level of law enforcement and criminal prosecution in such areas.

That doesn’t provide more money specifically for Standing Rock but directs BIA to focus more resources on isolated areas where law officers are scarce. Herseth Sandlin said the October Congressional stop was part of the inspiration for adding that language into the spending bill. It also helped raise awareness in Congress about the issues of domestic violence and inadequate law enforcement on isolated reservations, she said.

“I think it has been very important to keep raising awareness about the epidemic of various crimes, especially domestic violence, and the inadequate staffing levels of BIA officers,” she said.

Again, thank you Congresswoman Herseth!

Additionally, the Mayor, who is in somewhat of a bind here, was quoted in the same article:

Mayor Ron Dumdei said this week that he and council members appreciate the value of the shelter but also must consider the concerns of members of the community. Some citizens worry that the shelter could again be victimized by vandals and pose other potential threats to the community in its new location.

“I understand their need for a shelter, but I also have to be sensitive to the other community folks who have concerns about it,” Dumdei said. “We’ll do what we can to make things right.”

He seems to have good intentions here, so that’s another good sign.

Another issue that arose during the meeting was what seems to have been a misconception about the local police authority to arrest Indians. Because McLaughlin has a white police department operating inside an Indian reservation, according to one opponent of the shelter, the white police officers have no jurisdiction, so it wouldn’t matter whether or not the shelter is close to a police station (was that a wtf moment for you? It was for me).

This is plainly not true. There are jurisdictional issues that make it difficult to hold people, but they can be arrested, as the Mayor’s statement to the Rapid City Journal reflected:

Jurisdiction issues between the tribe, federal agencies and state and local law enforcement officers create problems as well, Dumdei said. Non-Native officers who apprehend tribal lawbreakers may only hold them until they can be picked up by the federal officers, Dumdei said.

The jurisdictional issues make it difficult for nontribal law enforcement to be effective, he said.

“It creates some problems here. But we’re trying to work it out,” Dumdei said. “What we want to do is provide a safe community. It’s a complicated issue, but we’re going to do the best with what we’ve got.”

Unfortunately, though, the original argument was not quashed at the meeting. In any case, as Georgia told me by phone yesterday, there has not been one case in South Dakota of a batterer attacking a women’s shelter. What happened to the shelter was vandalism, and we do not know the race of the vandals. The shelter needs to be in a safe area for the safety of the women inside it, just in case they are stalked, as well as to to deter  vandals, but not because any batterers are likely to attack the shelter.

During the upcoming 30 days, the Council will hold another town meeting and give Georgia a chance to talk about the shelter. That will also give the women’s shelter advocates in the area some time to educate the residents about exactly what a shelter is and does.

One thing IS certain. WE WILL HAVE A SAFE HAVEN FOR WOMEN ON THE STANDING ROCK RESERVATION, NO MATTER WHAT. Compassion WILL win.

Georgia also told me that one other thing they will immediately do is create a Plan B for purchase of a house. Since they could not close on a house on Jan.4th, as originally planned, they are now technically out of compliance with the grant that provides for operational expenses for the house. Thank God for the fundraiser. If they have to renovate some other house farther away from town, they will now be able to. Lets hope that doesn’t happen.

Right now, we’re not asking for letters to anyone in McLaughlin, except thank yous to Congressional Reps. Herseth and Dicks for their support. I think it is entirely possible that the members of the Council who oppose the shelter will come to their senses after they have been educated about what a women’s shelter really is, especially with more press coverage of the situation. This may just be another bureaucratic delay.

While I wait, what I am going to do is research the history behind these  towns on Indian reservations in the Dakotas. Some of the social relationships that have been described to me since I have become involved with this project are so oddly 19th century that sometimes I have difficulty overcoming my disbelief at what I’m hearing. I need to educate myself on this.

And things are just as messed up at the federal level too, which reinforces these problems.  Senator Dorgan has developed a concept paper with ideas for legislation to improve law enforcement in Indian Country. We really need to change federal laws that create conditions where people are treated differently by law enforcement just because of their race. You can read that paper here

Senator Dorgan is requesting comments on this paper.

Well, there you have it. This situation still embodies what Native American women face when they try to make change in their community. I feel so great to be able to say that now they’ve got the netroots behind them.

P.S.You can still get lots more information, and until the end of the month donate too, at the PBWH blog

Pretty Bird Woman House: Raises Over $80,000 for a New House

( – promoted by navajo)

My apologies; I only learned of the existence of this blog today when someone at Daily Kos suggested I crosspost this announcement. I hope this is not inappropriate. Thank you.


In October, Betsy Campisi, a volunteer on the last Pretty Bird Woman House fundraising drive called Georgia Little Shield, the shelter director to check in. After all, after the previous May fundraiser, things looked great – Pretty Bird Woman House had a building, funding from the Netroots until a grant kicked in in… things were going well. But when Betsy spoke to Georgia she heard grim news.

Our shelter was burned down. They stole everything. Then they burnt it down.

Betsy asked; how much to buy a new house with a security system? The answer: $70,000. Worse, all the grants Pretty Bird Woman House depended on required a physical building to use as a shelter. They needed the money FAST. It seemed so unlikely back in October that it could even be done…

Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and just hope that the net is there to catch you. This time there was no net. But you wonderful people… you wove that net even as everything was falling off the edge. You wove the net out of blog posts and $5 donations, out of human love and compassion.  

If you are not familiar with the story behind Pretty Bird Woman House you can get a pretty complete history right here.

Wow, I don’t cry often but today when I surfed over to the Pretty Bird Woman House Blog and saw we had met our goal of $70,000-well, I pretty much lost it…

The timing could not have been better – Pretty Bird Woman House had a Board of Directors Meeting today. All of the Board of Directors and the advocates who work for the Pretty Bird Woman House had come into town for the meeting. Shelter Director Georgia Little Shield checked the Chip-In before the meeting started:

Everybody broke down in tears… thank you, thank you, thank you! The Board of Directors was shocked. The girls (the advocates) were crying they were so surprised.

Even more amazing – they have not finished counting the checks that have arrived in the mail yet – we have really raised more than $77,000 for Pretty Bird Woman House… in fact, it might be well over $80,000 by the time the counting is done. You did not just buy a women’s shelter – you bought furniture, paid some of the energy bills, got a top notch security system… Georgia has promised me she will keep us updated on how the money is used. They have a donated digital camera and she will photograph things as they happen so that we can see.

Georgia went on to tell me that her life experiences with domestic violence and abuse as well as the horrors she sees on a day to day basis sometimes catch up to her and darken her world.

But this.. this has totally amazed me and given me hope – that there are so many good people out there. Strangers who actually care.

Now the voices of these women will be heard!

A new energy fills Pretty Bird Woman House; the staff does not spend its time trying to figure out how to make ends meet for tomorrow, unable to see how they can function next week, let alone the next month. Already things are falling into place. They have a bid in on a house across from the police station; if that does not work out for any reason, they have other buildings in mind.

Georgia is expanding the services offered by Pretty Bird Woman House – she has applied for two new grants and wants to hire two advocates who will specialize in working with victims of sexual assault. And Pretty Bird Woman House has a new volunteer advocate.  Those of you who followed this story will remember her. Back in October Georgia told us about the situation this remarkable woman was in:

I recently attended a court sentencing of man that pled guilty to a charge of sexual assault against a Native American Woman and the Mayor of his town testified that he was an up standing community member and that the community would except him back with open arms and to just give him probation.

That’s right; the new advocate for victims at Pretty Bird Woman House is the woman who was raped by this man. She is completing this circle and as part of her healing is reaching out to help others.

So who did this? Who is behind this amazing achievement?

The person who started Pretty Bird Woman House is Jackie Brown Otter. She did it in memory of her sister, Pretty Bird Woman, who was raped and murdered. Georgia Little Shield is the director of Pretty Bird Woman House. About seven Lakota Sioux (some may be Dakota Sioux – my apologies if I have gotten this wrong) women have been the core of this whole project, they nurtured the dream and made it reality.

The progressive netroots would probably never have heard of this if Daily Kos user Norman Bier had not heard a National Public Radio story on an Amnesty International Report detailing how terrible the plight of Native American women was with regard to sexual assault. Norman Bier diaried on Daily Kos about the fact that without funds, Pretty Bird Woman House would close – and over 600 people responded with $27,000 to keep the shelter running until grant money kicked in.

That’s how Betsy got involved. I only got involved after reading a diary by Winter Rabbit called Pretty Bird Woman House: Let’s Unbury some Hearts. Daily Kos frontpager Devilstower gave the fundraising a jolt of lightning when he frontpaged a fundraising diary.

Raw Stats

  • 14 people gave over $1,000
  • 14 people donated over $500 but less than $1,000
  • 150 people donated over $100 but under $500
  • 66 people made mutiple donations
  • Very rough estimate is that about 60% of donors were female, 40% male… not all names are clear, several donated as a family, etc. but overall, much more even numbers than I had expected.
  • 934 individuals donated via Chip-In – that number will go up when checks are counted
  • Blogs Honor Roll:

    All Spin Zone

    Angry Black Bitch

    Bitch PhD

    Black and Missing but not Forgotten – this blog exists to publicize missing black women in the hope that they can be found, or at least not forgotten. It’s terrible to know there is a need for a blog like this, but it’s wonderful that Deidra has chosen to to this. I know she is a Christian, but I hope she won’t mind me wishing that the Goddess bless her and hold her.

    Coleen at livejournal

    Nezua Limon Zolagrafik-Jonez on Corrente

    Daily Gotham

    Daily Kos

    Docudharma

    ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES

    elynross

    Feministe

    Nezua Limon Xolagrafik-Jonez on Jesus’ General

    Left In The West

    Melekakimaka: Christmas in Hawaii

    Mole333 at Culture Kitchen

    My Left Wing

    Nezua Limon Xolagrafik-Jonez at Culture Kitchen

    Obsidian Wings

    Offsprung: Lock the Bedroom Door

    one tenacious baby mama

    Other Guild? Whatever that may be

    Our Bodies, Our Blog

    RadGeek

    Radical Doula

    Shakesville

    Street Prophets

    Flux at Suicide Girls – this website is NSFW!

    The Unapologetic Mexican

    Vox ex Machina

    Wampum

    Women’s Health News

    Zillah’s Gin

    The Future For Pretty Bird Woman House

    This time around we won’t lose touch; Georgia is planning on launching a regular newsletter… if you donated, you will get it (I will work with her so that you can opt out; Georgia is an incredible woman but she is not net savvy). We’ll do periodic diaries on Daily Kos and Street Prophets. Betsy and I are hoping to take a trip out and visit the new house when it is set up.

    Hopefully we have put Pretty Bird Woman House in a position to be self-sustaining. It is great that we helped, but they must be able to thrive and grow on their own. We provided extraordinary assistance at a time of extraordinary crisis, which is appropriate. Personally, I think they are on the way. I expect them to keep growing.

    The Future For Native American Women: Obtaining Equal Justice

    Well, truthfully I have been so busy with the fundraiser I have not really thought about this but I am going to make this a part of my life. How can we expect justice in Iraq when our own people are treated this way? We have to put an end to it.

    I am starting my research with Senator Byron Dorgan’s concept paper on improving law enforcement in Indian country. More information and places to submit comments are here. But that’s about as far as I have gotten with this. Maybe in comments people can suggest other places to go.

    So the fight is not over by any means… but for now we celebrate an amazing victory!

    WE DID IT! WE BOUGHT PRETTY BIRD WOMAN HOUSE A NEW HOUSE!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR PROGRESSIVE NETROOTS!!

    You can still Donate here!.

    Pretty Bird Woman House is a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization.

    More info here:

    Pretty Bird Woman House Blog – many more resources and links here!!

    Amnesty International Report-Maze of Injustice: The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA

    Why traditional fundraising avenues are closed to Pretty Bird Woman House

    A Fairly Complete History of Pretty Bird Woman House.

    Pretty Bird Woman HouseYahoo Group.

    Pretty Bird Woman House Update: YOU are buying THIS house!

    ( – promoted by navajo)

    I thought I’d give you an update on what was going on with the fundraiser for this shelter. Georgia Little Shield, the director, has used the money we have raised so far to place a bid on the house you see in the photos below.

    We need donations urgently right now since there was only enough money for a really low bid, so that makes things still a bit tenuous. And then there will be closing costs and a security system. But even though we haven’t sealed the deal yet, we’re coming very close!

    The amazing part of this project is that the individual efforts of a bunch of bloggers are making such a big difference to a group of women. This is what a community is really about.  And were else can you see donations doing something so huge so fast?  

    Here are the photos of the house. Isn’t it great!

    Front View:

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    Living Room:

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    Kitchen, View 1

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    Kitchen, View 2

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    Dining Room:

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    There is also a huge basement, which will house a children’s playroom, and a small thrift shop to support the shelter, and has great general potential.

    The next large item is a security system. With security cameras. A good one (which is a must in this situation) is at least $7,000 installed. And then we’ll need a fence. That’s going to be another large chunk of change. Since this is a one story house, and we don’t want batterers to try to get into those bedrooms at night, the fence is vital in addition to the security system. We don’t want a repeat of the theft and vandalism either.

    If you haven’t donated yet, you can make a huge difference right now because they’re at a crucial point in the house purchase process, and things are still a little shaky. Go here to donate and get all the info you could possibly want on the shelter if you have missed the story up until now.

    There will be needs after the house purchase, which is why I am keeping the goal at $70,000 despite the fact that of the 2 houses available, they’re bidding on the lower-priced one.

    Because of the prior theft they’re also going to need a TV, VCR, DVD player, and the entertainment center to put them on. Boy it really sucks that they got so much stuff stolen! They’re also going to need a washer and dryer, as well as new dressers, 2 more bunk beds, and 2 more double beds, since more women and children will be housed here than in the other shelter. They also will need extra couches and chairs because the living room is so big, and the outside of the house needs a new coat of paint.

    Those items are all important, but the money to seal the deal for the house and buy the security system is the most urgent.

    So please everyone, keep passing the word. We are SO close.

    I want to raise $10K more by Christmas. If the sellers accept the current bid that much will cover closing costs and the security system so the women can move right in. If they don’t accept the bid, it will allow them to increase it slightly and still cover closing costs. In any case, we’re SO close to this being a huge netroots coup for the shelter!

    P.S. The shelter also just received another federal grant. If we can get this house, that grant will pay for utilities, food and other expenses. It’s also funding another advocate. So, we’ve got great long-term viability here, we just need to help them with their infrastructure! They are also planning a domestic violence conference for April that will be free for all Standing Rock residents. Georgia just never quits, even in the middle of all this house chaos!

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    (by Tigana)