I Deserve Justice: Native Women From Alaska - 5 Part Series

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 1 - Lynn Hootch

Lynn Hootch is a Yupik Eskimo and an enrolled member of the Alaska Native Village of Emmonak, located in the Yukon Delta Region of southwestern Alaska. Read her statement here.

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Born and raised in the village where she still lives and an active community member, Lynn has held numerous elected positions in her community, including Emmonak Tribal Council, Emmonak City Council, Vice Mayor for the Village of Emmonak, member of the Parish Council, and Advisory School Board member. She has also served as an officer and a board member for many women’s organizations in Alaska, including the Alaska Native Women’s Coalition and the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Lynn is a founder of the Emmonak Women’s Shelter, a non-profit, grass roots organization founded in 1979 to increase safety for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other forms of abuse, and to provide emergency shelter and assistance for these women and children.

Lynn currently serves as the Director for the Yupik Women’s Coalition, a regional tribal coalition that raises public awareness of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and/or dating violence, enhances the response to violence against Native women at the local, state and national levels, and provides technical assistance to other tribes in Alaska to enhance access to essential services for Native women victimized by domestic violence and sexual assault. 

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Lynn is married and the mother of five beautiful children, three boys and two girls, and a grandmother to two girls who bring life, joy, happiness and love to all.

Background:

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

Save Wiyabi Project

"Wiyabi" is Assiniboine for "Women". This project is dedicated to bringing awareness to the epidemic of sexual and domestic violence towards Native American women. In the United States, Native women are more likely to be raped and physically assaulted than any other group. We encourage you to support the Re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the SAVE Native Women Act.

You can now follow us on Twitter at @SaveWiyabi and on Facebook at Facebook.com/Save.Wiyabi.Project

[For more on social justice, follow me on Instagram: soulrevision , Tumblr: soulrevision , Facebook: soulrevision , Twitter: soulrevision]

 I mean, I shouldn’t have to say this in 2014, but alas, here we are …

(Also, check out the #YesAllWomen hashtag on twitter started by @gildedspine)

Attention: Tomorrow (12/5/2012) Save Wiyabi Project, Western Native Voice, and the Native Youth Leadership Alliance are hosting an emergency day of action to demand that the Violence Against Women Act is passed. Congress ends on December 15th and, and then VAWA expires. Please join us on the bridge in Pablo, Montana (in front of Salish Kootenai Tribal College) to demand safety and respect for Indian Country. For more info visit www.Facebook.com/Save.Wiyabi.Project

We have serial rapists on the reservation — that are non-Indian — because they know they can get away with it. Many of these cases just get dropped. Nothing happens. And they know they’re free to hurt again.
— 

Charon Asetoyer, executive director of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center in Lake Andes, S.D.

“It’s immoral that the Congress of the United States would stand there and say that Indian women are less than their white counterparts, that we shouldn’t have the same equal protection under the law.”

How abusers get away with targeting Indian women - Salon.com

From yesterday’s VAWA Day of Action in front of Salish Kootenai Tribal College on the Flathead Nation reservation. This tiny girl was taken out of school by her grandmother, and the both of them came to participate as a team.

This poster quote is from the 1491’s “To the Indigenous Woman” poem/video.

Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us.

Good afternoon. I am Mavutaseuv, Indian Girl with a Different Face. I am known as Diane Millich, and I am a citizen of the Southern Ute Indian tribe located in Ignacio, Colorado. When I was 26 years old, I dated a non-Indian, a white man. After six months, we were married. My non-Indian husband moved into my house on the reservation. To my shock, just days after our marriage, he assaulted me. After a year of abuse and more than a hundred incidences of being slapped, kicked, punched, and living in horrific terror, I left for good. During that year of marriage, I called the police many times. I called our Southern Ute tribal police department, but the law prevented them from arresting and prosecuting my husband because he was non-Indian. The county sheriff could not help me because I am a Native woman and the beatings occurred on tribal reservation land. After one beating, my ex-husband called the tribal police and the sheriff’s department himself just to show me that no one could stop him. All the times that I called the police and nothing was done only made my ex-husband believe he was above the law and untouchable. My ex-husband told me, ‘You promised us until death do us part, so death it shall be.’ Finally he arrived at my office armed with a gun. I am alive today only because my coworker pushed me out of harm’s way and took the bullet in his shoulder. For this crime he was finally arrested. But because he had never been arrested for any of the abuse against me, he was treated as a first-time offender. The state prosecutor and him reached a plea agreement of ‘aggravated driving under revocation’. If the bill being signed today were law when I was married, it would have allowed my tribe to arrest and prosecute my abuser. When this bill is signed, The Violence Against Women Act will finally reach Native American women like me.
—  Diane Millich at the signing of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act March 7, 2014 [x]

How Anonymous hacking exposed Steubenville HS rape case
January 5, 2013

At an August football party in Steubenville, Ohio, a 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped by multiple athletes as she lay unconscious. Now, because of social media, horrific details of the case have been leaked to the masses, inspiring a call for increased accountability and a protest planned for this Saturday.

While two boys were arrested and charged in relation to the alleged rape, several others have been accused of playing a role in the crime, either by watching without intervening or disseminating photographs of the attack. Due to the small town’s close-knit nature, accusations of a coverup have emerged.  

According to various reports, an alleged “rape crew” dragged the young girl from party to party before she finally passed out. Testimony from witnesses suggests that she faced multiple sexual assaults while she was unconscious. One tweet suggests she may have been urinated on.

The victim did not realize she had been raped until she heard about the photographs, and then saw the images. One image shows two football players carrying the girl — who has not been identified because she is a minor — by her hands and ankles, as she hangs limp above the ground. The New York Timesreported that another image shows her lying naked on the floor.

Despite the disturbing nature of the case, for months only Alexandria Goddard of Prinniefied.com reported on the rape, documenting social media evidence with screenshots and suggesting a handful of perpetrators were to blame. Now that the hacktivist collective Anonymous has taken an interest in the case, new details are emerging. Photographs and other evidence on social media have raised questions about local authorities’ investigation. 

After demanding a public apology from the boys they identified by name as the so-called “rape crew” by January 1,  the rape-specific arm of Anonymous, KnightSec, released a disturbing video of a teenage boy who appears to be speaking moments after the rape occured. In it, he laughs at how the unconscious girl is “deader than Trayvon Martin,” was raped “quicker than Mike Tyson” and “more than [by] the Duke lacrosse team.” The same boy tweeted about the night, with disturbing posts like “Song of the night is definitely ‘Rape Me’ by Nirvana,” “you don’t sleep through a wang in the butthole,” and “some people deserve to be peed on.”

While Anonymous appears to have uncovered information that mainstream journalists could not, the police released a statement following the video’s release saying that law enforcement was aware of the footage and had interviewed the teen who made it. While police say witnesses have not heeded their calls to come forward, there appears to be an abundance of evidence suggesting other individuals were involved. But according to the New York Times, deleted images were unretrievable:

Eventually, 15 phones and 2 iPads were confiscated and analyzed by a cyber crime expert at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. That expert could not retrieve deleted photographs and videos on most of the phones.

In the end, the expert recovered two naked photographs of the girl. One photograph showed the girl face down on the floor at one party, naked with her arms tucked beneath her, according to testimony given at a hearing in October. The other photograph was not described. Both photographs were found on Mays’s iPhone. No photograph or video showed anyone involved in a sexual act with the girl.

Anonymous complaints and chatter on the Internet about a less than fully aggressive investigation have perhaps not surprisingly proliferated.

Adding to the Anonymous-led conspiracy theory is that Steubenville High head coach Reno Saccoccia did not bench or in any way suspend the players involved. 

Full article

This incident happened nearly five months ago, but this case is finally starting to cause some outrage on a national scale. Coincidentally, after the House GOP let the Violence Against Women Act expire on January 2, Sen. Patty Murray is expected to reintroduce VAWA this year. 

But smashing rape culture must go beyond an act of legislation. As writer Jessica Valenti for The Nation wrote:

"We live in a country where politicians call rape a “gift from God” and suggest that women regularly lie about being raped. Where a group of young men in high school think so little of sexual assault that they thought it was fine—hilarious, even—to post pictures online of a passed out rape victim, and to live-tweet the rape, joking about the victim being urinated on. We live in a country where media as revered as The New York Times finds it necessary to describe an 11-year-old gang rape victim as “wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s.” Where a woman can be fired because her boss finds her “irresistable” and a woman’s rape case falls flat because she isn’t married.

It’s time to acknowledge that the rape epidemic in the United States is not just about the crimes themselves, but our own cultural and political willful ignorance.

Rape is as American as apple pie—until we own that, nothing will change.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on Monday openly admitted that she opposed the latest reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) because it included protections for LGBT, Native American, and undocumented victims of domestic violence.

In an appearance on MSNBC, Blackburn pointed out that the latest iteration of the law protects “different groups” and thus dilutes funding for straight, non-Native American women with the proper documentation:

When you start to make this about other things it becomes an “against violence act” and not a targeted focus act… I didn’t like the way it was expanded to include other different groups. What you need is something that is focused specifically to help the shelters and to help out law enforcement, who is trying to work with the crimes that have been committed against women and helping them to stand up.

Watch it:

Domestic violence is domestic violence, period. And there is no way to justify Blackburn’s suggestion that some victims of this violence are more deserving than others. 

Additionally, the reauthorized VAWA includes provisions to prevent serial rapists and similar abusers from preying on Native American women. If Blackburn considers Native American women a “different group,” then it’s one she should be most concerned about: Three out of every five Native American women has been assaulted by an intimate partner.

H/T:  Think Progress Justice

Finally, Congress will reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act: The legislation, dreamed up and championed in 1994 by then-Senator Joe Biden, died in the House last year when the Republican leadership refused to put it to a vote (it had already passed the Senate). The problem, if you want to put it that way, was that Senate Democrats had modified the legislation to add protections for LGBT women, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants. John Boehner and company objected to these additions so strongly that they refused to let the House vote on it, despite indications that it would pass if they did. Today, Boehner relented, and will allow the House to vote on the bill. It’s expected to pass and will likely land on the President’s desk at the end of the week. (Photo: Getty images) source

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