"A nation is not defeated until the hearts of its women are on the ground,” goes an old Cheyenne proverb.
Sometimes I think it’s amazing we’re still standing at all.
Recently, several courageous Native women came to Montana’s capitol to share testimony about the physical and emotional abuse they endured at the hands of the men they loved. Their stories were heart-wrenching and tragic, filled with tears, anguish, and hope for a better life.
Their testimony at the “Honoring Native Women by Stopping the Violence” conference is part of Montana’s collective effort to deal with the shocking revelation that one in three Native women will be raped or assaulted in her lifetime, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics.
More than 86 percent of reported cases of rape or sexual assault are committed by non-Indian men, and prosecution is nearly impossible due to problems with jurisdiction, the lack of rape kits to collect evidence, and a severe lack of funding for law enforcement and prosecution on reservations.
“When I read Amnesty International’s report, ‘Maze of Injustice,’ it was a real awakening about the level of violence against Native women,” said state Sen. Carol Juneau, D-Browning. “We, as Indian people, are allowing something terrible to happen and we’re not stepping up or speaking out enough to stop the brutality. I knew we had to take a strong stand to do something about it.”"
Get the Story:
Valerie Taliman: Honoring women by stopping the violence
(Indian Country Today 7/19)