This September, as world leaders make their way to the United Nations for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, five brave Alaska Native women are traveling to New York to ask the world to assist them in their journey for justice for women.
This series highlights the five women featured in Sliver of a Full Moon, a new play about this journey, at Joe’s Pub at The Public on September 21.
Part 4 - Joann Horn
Joann speaks about her work at the Emmonak Women’s Shelter in a documentary about the survival of Native women in Alaska, Daughters of Emmonak.
"First of all, I would like to share with you all that I am a survivor of domestic violence. I have been in and out of shelter programs with my children. After seeing what I made my children go through, I decided not to take the abuse anymore with my kids. I felt sorry for them because they saw and heard the abuse between me and my husband. Therefore, I decided to start working at the shelter and start working as a relief advocate to rural outreach program, and now I work as executive director of the Emmonak Woman’s Shelter (“EWS”).
EWS has provided advocacy services since 1979, and shelter services since 1984. In 2005, however, the State of Alaska eliminated our funding. As a result, we struggled to remain open full time and were forced to close.
With funding from the Office on Violence against Women, U.S.DOJ, we were able to open our Shelter again soon after. Our Shelter has 3 bedrooms, which can serve at the most 15 women and children total. Flooding earlier this year has damaged the Shelter, although we still use the Shelter, but we are looking for funding to rehabilitate or build us a new shelter. Our primary barriers to providing services to victims is funding; we need funding for heating fuel to keeping our Shelter warm in the long cold winters, electricity to keep our heating furnace operating and lights in our Shelter, and food for victims in our Shelter. Another huge challenge is transportation. Many of our victims live in villages where the only mode of transportation is by plane and by boat. For instance, for a victim from the nearest village to fly to our shelter one-way, EWS must pay at least $200. EWS cannot currently afford to pay the return trip home once the victim is safe to return to her community. Our inability to fund travel prevents many women from seeking shelter who desperately need it.
So for many years I have been a help to many women and children who have come to our shelter for help. I have helped many from our area that I’ve spoken to. Today we must stand our ground. We cannot have people from the State continue to come down and walk all over us and control us Natives.
We want respect for or future generations, for all of our native people. This is why I’m still working for safety for women and children across the state. Our women should be treated with respect.”
In 1978, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indan Tribe, declaring that American Indian Nations could no longer exercise jurisdiction over non-native offenders who commit crimes on tribal lands. Although the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) in March 2013 restores a portion of the jurisdiction that Oliphant stripped away to American Indian Nations, VAWAspecifically excludes 228 federally recognized tribes in Alaska. Consequently, as a result of Section 910 of VAWA 2013, Alaska Native women remain the only group of Native women whose tribal governments cannot protect them. To learn more, read: www.sliverofafullmoon.org