Absenee Shawnee tribe among those getting funding to address Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Crimes in Indian Country
Oklahoma tribal governments and the Oklahoma tribal domestic violence and sexual assault coalition, the Native Alliance Against Violence, were among the fiscal year 2020 funding awards of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) as announced by the United States Attorney Offices - Oklahoma on Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at a press event in Tulsa, OK.
Of the nearly $12 million in grant awards to assist law enforcement agencies, tribes, victims service agencies, coalitions, and local and state government within Oklahoma, as part of its efforts to address domestic and sexual violence in Oklahoma and Oklahoma Indian Country, the following Tribal governments and tribal organizations received funding under the rollout of the DOJ fiscal year 2020 grant awards;
§ The Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma was funded for a 3-year Tribal Special Assistant United States Attorney.
§ The Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma received $407,000 to update their tribal codes, policies, and procedure in preparation for exercising special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction under the Violence Against Women Act.
§ The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma was funded a portion of the $3 million granted under the OVW’s Tribal Governments Program to support coordinated community responses to violence against women.
§ The Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma was funded a portion of the $3 million granted under the OVW’s Tribal Governments Program to support coordinated community responses to violence against women.
§ The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma was funded a portion of the $3 million granted under the OVW’s Tribal Governments Program to support coordinated community responses to violence against women.
§ The Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma was funded a portion of the $3 million granted under the OVW’s Tribal Governments Program to support coordinated community responses to violence against women.
§ The Native Alliance Against Violence was funded $597,849 for the continued work of the coalition to provide training, technical assistance and support to tribal governments and tribal victim service programs in Oklahoma, and a second awards to strengthen the work of the NAAV’s Coordinated Indigenous Resource Center for Legal Empowerment (CIRCLE) project to provide civil legal assistance to victims of domestic and sexual violence.
“We are thrilled with the announcement of the continued funding to the tribal coalition, tribal governments, and the tribal domestic and sexual violence service programs through the Office on Violence Against Women grant awards,” stated Shelley Miller, Executive Director of Native Alliance Against Violence. “Continued program funding and funding for new tribal projects will help to meet the needs of and enhance the response to domestic violence and sexual assault victims in Oklahoma Indian Country. This will also ensure that Native women continue to be afforded culturally relevant services in Oklahoma.”
Native women experience disproportionately high rates of violence. The National Institute of Justice - the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, released an alarming study in May 2016, confirming what many tribal leaders and tribal advocates working to protect Indian women and children already knew, that American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women experience severe rates of violence in their lifetimes. The study included findings that:
38% of AI/AN women were unable to receive necessary services, including medical care and legal services;
56.1% of AI/AN women experienced sexual violence;
55.5% of AI/AN women experienced physical violence by an intimate partner;
48.8% of AI/AN women experienced stalking; and
66.4% of AI/AN women experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner.
The high rates of violence and the various intersections that Native survivors of violence must confront and navigate as a result of their victimization are further exacerbated by jurisdictional complexities, federal legislation that prohibits Tribes from prosecuting non-Indian perpetrators for the crimes of rape, sexual assault, sex trafficking, stalking, and child abuse committed on Indian land, and by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The OVW Grants to Indian Tribal Governments Program (Tribal Governments Program), authorized in Title IX of the Violence Against Women Act of 2005, is designed to enhance the ability of tribes to respond to violence crimes against Indian women, enhance victim safety, and develop education and prevention strategies. Not including the fiscal year 2020 awards above mentioned, 19 of the 38 tribal nations in Oklahoma are Tribal Governments Program grantees, with many nations having received OVW funding for more than two decades, prior to the Safety for Nation Women provisions in VAWA.
The Violence Against Women Act was last reauthorized in 2013 and expired in 2018. In April, 2019, the House of Representatives passed a VAWA Reauthorization bill (H.R. 1585), a bipartisan bill developed in partnership with national and tribal advocacy organizations, voted in the affirmative by Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole and Oklahoma Congresswoman Kendra S. Horn, reauthorizing the 2013 provisions and expanding prosecution of non-Indians to include obstruction of justice-type crimes, sexual assault crimes, sex trafficking, and stalking; expanding the definition of domestic violence to include children who witness the crime; expanding the Tribal Access Program to tribes without law enforcement; and expanding enforcement of tribal protection orders. The lifesaving amendments to enhance tribal sovereignty and safety for Native women of H.R. 1585 was widely supported across Indian Country. Senate bill S.2843 closely mirrors H.R.1585 with the expansion of covered crimes.
The OVW funding to the Oklahoma tribal coalition, tribal governments, and tribal victim service programs – past and present helps to increase services to Native victims of domestic and sexual violence, and enhance the response to these crimes at the tribal and federal levels.
The Native Alliance Against Violence (NAAV) is Oklahoma’s tribal coalition providing training, technical assistance and support to tribal governments, and tribal victim services program in Oklahoma. In addition to their work with tribal governments and programs in Oklahoma, the NAAV provides technical assistance and training nationally to OVW Grants to Tribal Governments grantees across Indian Country with regard to data collection and capacity building. More information about the NAAV and the tribal victim service programs they serve can be found at oknaav.org.
StrongHearts Native Helpline, 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483), is a safe domestic violence, sexual assault, and dating violence helpline for American Indians and Alaska Natives offering culturally-appropriate support and advocacy. The calls are anonymous and confidential. More information about the helpline is available at strongheartshelpline.org.