Caroline LaPorte - an immediate descendent of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is the Senior Policy Advisor for the NIWRC and StrongHearts Native Helpline - is an important advocate in a long history of matriarchs who have been looking for Native-based solutions to domestic violence in Tribal communities. Caroline has been working on gender-based violence since law school and is a victim of sexual assault herself, but never considered that DV (domestic violence) was a space where she could focus her impact.
Stronghearts Native Helpline, an extension of the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center uses traditional forms of healing such as storytelling to bring resources specifically to Native Tribal communities around all forms of abuse: sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, dating violence, digital abuse, emotional abuse and spiritual/cultural abuse. Jana discusses experiencing spiritual and cultural abuse - a type of recently named abuse that many Native people deal with. Caroline informs Jana that until we name abuses and create language around them, it's impossible to manage these issues legislatively. The two women discuss intergenerational trauma in Native communities and their families. Caroline states that until racial equity is established in the movement, white feminism will stay centered. But when racial equity takes a focus in women's movements, then therapeutic resources and educational access become more prevalent.
Caroline discusses the statistics around intimate partner violence in Alaskan Natives and North American Indian populations:
- Statistics haven't improved from the 90s.
- 4 out of 5 Native women experience violence in their lifetime.
- 55% experience intimate partner violence.
- 56% experience sexual assault.
These statistics are staggering and this study also confirms that 90% of this violence is performed by a non-Native perpetrator - an extremely important piece of the puzzle. The reality is that this violence against women is a form of genocide that has been occurring in Native communities since colonization.
This issue does not only affect Native women. A third of Native men are victims of physical violence by their partner. The psychological aggression is higher for men as well. Caroline discusses the stigma surrounding intimate partner violence for men and as Native people see more than two genders, the statistics do not account for DV among trans, gender non-binary, gender queer and two-spirit Native people.
- NYATOPA (Sen. Udall/Murkowski): child abuse and law enforcement
- Justice for Native Survivors Act (Sen. Franken/Udall/Murkowski): sex trafficking, stalking, tribes prosecuting non-Natives.
- Survive Bill (Sen. Hoeven): provides VOCA funding for tribes
- Savannah's Act (Sen. Heitkamp): addresses the database issue Native people experience around missing & murdered Native women.
Caroline's One Cool Thing: Moccasins made out of moose - Jamie Gentry (@jamiegentrydesigns)! Follow Jamie and purchase from her!
Jana's One Cool Thing: Native Clothing Brand NSRGNTS because everyone should support Native designers and creators!
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