"In the painting, the two girls hold hands.
The painting, by Roxanne Chinook, an artist from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, hangs in Oregon's Jefferson County Library.
Chinook still knows the girls who she photographed years ago at a pow wow.
Yet through the power of her paint brush, Chinook transformed the children on the canvas into herself at the age when the abuse began. That was a year before she told about her grandfather's molestation of herself, the rape of her childhood.
Now in her early 50s, Chinook teaches women on the Tulalip Tribes reservation near Seattle about the patterns of abuse that can trap women, particularly Indian women.
The Tulalip are one of growing number of tribes taking stands against domestic violence through education and law enforcement. At a satellite campus of Northwest Indian College, the slight, stylish woman opens a weekday class unsure who will attend.
Four social workers from the Snohomish County Center for Battered Women show up, inspired by a training Chinook had given. About 20 minutes into the class, some tribal women appear tentatively at the door. Chinook welcomes them in her warm, gravely voice.
Soon the formal statistics - one in three Indian women is raped in her lifetime, compared with one in five other women - give way to a time-honored style of Native teaching: truth-telling mixed almost improbably with an Indian humor."
Get the Story:
Kara Briggs: Ending the cycle of shame
(Indian Country Today 1/25)