Tag Archives: Indian Country

Violence Against Native Women Is Not Traditional

Violence Against Women is not a Native tradition. It was not tolerated and in the rare event that it occurred, it was taken seriously. Abuse wasn’t considered a “private family matter.”

Within the natural system of life, tribal people lived together peacefully and violence within the family was rare. Though cultures and customs vary from Tribe to Tribe, the core belief systems of tribes are extremely similar because they are based on the natural and true understanding of reality. People received many teachings from the family and community that helped us to learn how to be good relatives to each other. Another method of teaching that was customary was story telling. For instance, a story of a certain mountain where incest occurred, the offender may have been banished from the band or even put to death. This mountain would represent a crime that would be told to the young and reminded to the membership of the Tribe continuously during the Tribes story telling time. This was called the law of land.

In many Tribes, the abuser could be banished, ostracized or retaliation was left to the male relatives of the victim. A man who was seen as violent within the family was not seen as capable of any leadership responsibilities. He had demonstrated that he did not possess the self-discipline, respect, caring or spiritual understanding to effectively lead the People.

The abuse of Native women and children can be traced to the colonization, introduction of alcohol into our culture and Christianity. (Paula Gunn Allen: “Violence and the American Indian Woman”). Many of our people learned about violence in boarding schools. Boarding school distorted our ability to act as parents, sons, daughters and as relatives. Our traditional parenting was nonviolent and nurtured the spirit of the child. This knowledge was replaced with experiences of corporal punishment that reflected the teachings of the church.

Denied our families our culture in boarding schools, we experienced and passed on to our children and grandchildren verbal, emotional, sexual and physical violence as acceptable means to control others when we didn’t get our way. Alcohol contributes to the violence, making it more unpredictable and severe.

The reservation era diminished the traditional male role of the protector and provider and the role value of women, the government assumed the role and consequently some Native men have experienced a loss of identity and women therefore lost their roles as partners in providing for the physical, mental and spiritual health of their families and relatives. Men and women had partnership and a balance in everything they did in the everyday role modeling for their children. This loss was replaced by the dominant society’s negative attitudes, beliefs and behaviors towards women. Granted, this is no fault of our own ; however, the reality is that contemporary Native male attitude about women and relationships have been distorted and the violent behavior of Native men towards Native women is tearing apart Native families.

The colonization of Native families made women and children the property of the Native men. Similar to concept of slavery. Thus ownership of another human being is genuinely an Anglo concept. Wedding rings became symbols of ownership. With the privilege of ownership property can be treated however the owner chooses.

When the female Eagle chooses her mate she flies up high and invites the male Eagle to catch the stick she has dropped . If the male Eagle catches the stick she flies even higher the next time she courts her mate. She will choose the male Eagle that can continuously and at the greatest height always catch the stick this will be her mate for life. She does this to test her mate because they must work together to provide for their eaglets both he and she will responsible for their survival while one or the other is away gathering.

This is the natural law of the land and one prevalent in the Traditional way of life.

Written by Karen Artichoker, Marlin Mousseau, Julienne Cross.

Federal Crimes and Penalties

  • All the federal domestic violence crimes are felonies.
  • It is a federal crime under VAWA:
  1. To cross state lines or enter or leave Indian Country and physically injure an “intimate partner.” 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2261
  2. To cross state lines to stalk or harass or to stalk or harass within the maritime or territorial lands of the United States (this includes military bases and Indian Country). 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2261A
  3. To cross state lines or enter or leave Indian Country and violate a qualifying protection Order. 18 U.S.C. 2262
  4. It is a federal crime under the Gun Control Act:
  • To possess a firearm and/ or ammunition while subject to a qualifying Protection Order. 18 U.S.C. Sec. 922(g)(8)
  • To possess a firearm and/or ammunition after conviction of a qualifying misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. 18 U.S.C. Sec. 922(g)(9)
  • A violation under VAWA, Sec. 2261, 2261 A, 2262,  a maximum prison term of five years to life, depending on the seriousness of the bodily injury caused by the defendant.

    Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

    • Provides for the recognition and enforcement of tribal court protection orders across jurisdictions.
    • Explicitly provides tribal courts with civil jurisdiction over non-Indians in protection order hearings where tribal courts otherwise maintain subject matter and personal jurisdiction.
    • Has been an important source of funding for victim programs and training for law enforcement, courts, prosecution, social services, and community organizations in Indian Country.
    • Has helped efforts to build regional coalitions promoting safety for Indian Women and accountability for abusers.

    Domestic Violence Laws

    • Violence Against Woman Act (VAWA)

    ( 18 U.S.C.A. 2265)

    • Passed in 1994 and amended in 1996.

    In 1994 and 1996, Congress also passed changes to the Gun Control Act making it a federal crime in certain situations for domestic abusers to possess guns.

    • VAWA

    Recognizes that domestic violence is a national crime and that federal laws can help an overburdened state and local criminal justice system.

    The majority of domestic violence cases will continue to be handled by your state and local authorities.

    In some cases, however, the federal laws and benefits gained from applying these laws, may be the most appropriate course of action.

    Model Tribal Domestic Violence Full Faith and Credit Ordinance



    It is the purpose of this chapter to ensure that domestic violence protection orders issued by other jurisdictions, including tribal and state courts, be honored and enforced by the courts of the _______Indian tribe as well as tribal law enforcement. The tribe finds that federal law, 18 U.S.C. & sect; 2265, requires state and tribal courts to honor protection orders entered by each court. To implement this section of federal law, and to assure protection for victims of domestic violence within the_______Indian reservation this chapter is being enacted. The problem of domestic violence and stalking on the _______Indian Reservation is seriously impacting the ability of the tribe to provide for health and well-being of its tribal members and threatens the political integrity of the Tribe because of its serious impact upon victims and their families to function in their respective tribal communities. This ordinance is enacted pursuant to the inherent, sovereign right of tile______Tribe to enact ordinances for the welfare and protection of all persons on the _____Indian reservation and it is intended to apply all acts of domestic violence and violations of protection orders within the exterior boundaries of the ______Indian reservation and all trusts lands and dependent Indian communities that lie outside the exterior boundaries of the reservation.


    1. Ex Parte Protection Order-a temporary order issued by a tribal or state court which restrains any person, Indian or non-Indian, from harassing, annoying, stalking, contacting, or coming within a certain proximity to another person issued by a court with jurisdiction over the person restrained and subject matter jurisdiction. The order shall also provide for an opportunity for a restrained person to be heard before the issuance of a permanent order for protection.
    2. Permanent Order of Protection– an order issued by a tribal or state court which restrains any person, Indian or non-Indian, either permanently or for  a specified period of time, for harassing, annoying, stalking, contacting, or coming within a certain proximity to another person issued be a court with jurisdiction over the person restrained and subject matter jurisdiction. The order may be the result of a civil protection order proceeding or the result of an order arising from a criminal prosecution against a person.
    3. Mutual Protection Order-an order issued be a tribal or state court which restrains both parties to a proceeding from harassing, annoying, stalking, contacting or coming within a certain proximity to another person(s). In order to be enforced by a court of this Tribe, a mutual protection order must be a result of both parties to a proceeding filing separate protection order petitions and the issuing Court finding that each persons to a mutual protection order have committed an act of domestic violence under the laws of the issuing jurisdiction.
    4. Issuing Court-a tribe or state court that issues an ex-parte or permanent order of protection against a person.
    5. Enforcing Court-a tribal or state court that recognizes and enforces as ex-parte or permanent order of protection against a person issued by another tribal or state court.
    6. Full Faith and Credit-the act of enforcing an ex-parte or permanent order of protection from another tribal or state court as if it were the order of the tribal court of the _______Tribe. In enforcing said order of protection, the enforcing court and its law enforcement agencies shall apply all laws and ordinances, including mandatory arrest for violations of protection orders, that the enforcing court has in existence at the time enforcement of the foreign protection is sought. Registration of the protection order is not a prerequisite to enforcement under this paragraph.
    7. Registration-the act of filing a protection order issued by another tribal or state court with the tribal court of the _____Tribe or with the law enforcement agencies of the____________.
    8. Central registry of protection orders-a list of protection orders issued by the state and tribal courts either maintained by the state or some Tribal entity, which contains verifiable methods of identifying the existence of protection orders to be enforced under federal law, 18 U.S.C. & sect; 2265, and the person against whom the protection order is enforceable.

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children

    Traumatic stress is produced by exposure to events that are so extreme or severe and threatening, that they demand extraordinary coping efforts. Such events are often unpredicted and uncontrollable. They overwhelm a person’s sense of safety and security. Children are more at risk for post traumatic stress disorder than adults because they lack the cognitive abilities as well as the emotional understanding that helps people cope with traumatic events such as witnessing battering. From the point of view of a child, domestic violence is more than “daddy hits mommy” or “daddy says that mommy is stupid”. From their point of view, their main attachment figure and source of life is being attacked and hurt by an equally loved adult who alternates between acts of violence and acts of love. This is all very confusing for children to witness.

    More than half of the school-age children in domestic violence shelters show clinical levels of anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (Graham-Bermann, 1994). Without treatment, these children are at significant risk for delinquency, substance abuse, school drop-out, and difficulties in their own relationships.

    Children may exhibit a wide range of reactions to exposure to violence in their home. Younger children (e.g., pre-school and kindergarten) oftentimes, do not understand the meaning of the abuse they observe and tend to believe that they “must have done something wrong.” Self-blame can precipitate feelings of guilt, worry, and anxiety. It is important to consider that children, especially younger children, typically do not have the ability to adequately express their feelings verbally. Consequently, the manifestation of these emotions are often behavioral. Children may become withdrawn, non-verbal, and exhibit regressed behaviors such as clinging and whining. Eating and sleeping difficulty, concentration problems, generalized anxiety, and physical complaints (e.g., headaches) are all common.

    Unlike younger children, the pre-adolescent child typically has greater ability to externalize negative emotions (e.g., to verbalize). In addition to symptoms commonly seen with childhood anxiety (e.g., sleep problems, eating disturbance, nightmares), victims within this age group may show a loss of interest in social activities, low self-concept, withdrawal or avoidance of peer relations, rebelliousness and oppositional-defiant behavior in the school setting. It is also common to observe temper tantrums, irritability, frequent fighting at school or between siblings, lashing out at objects, treating pets cruelly or abusively, threatening of peers or siblings with violence (e.g., “give me a pen or I will smack you”), and attempts to gain attention through hitting, kicking, or choking peers and/or family members. Incidentally, girls are more likely to exhibit withdrawal and unfortunately, run the risk of being overlooked as a child in need of support.

    Adolescents are at risk of academic failure, school drop-out, delinquency, and substance abuse. Some investigators have suggested that a history of family violence or abuse is the most significant difference between delinquent and non delinquent youth. An estimated 1/5 to 1/3 of all teenagers who are involved in dating relationships are regularly abusing or being abused by their partners verbally, mentally, emotionally, sexually, and/or physically (SASS, 1996).

    Witnessing the violence

    Children and Domestic Violence

    A Few Facts…

    About Witnessing the violence

    Over 3 million children are at risk of exposure to parental violence each year.
    (Carlson, B.E. . “Children’s Observations of Interparental Violence” in Edwards, A.R. (ed.). Battered Women and Their Families. New York: Springer. pp. 147-167. 1984. )

    The majority of the children from violent homes observe the violence inflicted by their fathers upon their mothers; most research suggests as many as 90 percent of children from violent homes witness their fathers battering their mothers
    (Pagelow, 1990; Walker, 1984)
    About the Effects of Witnessing Violence

    Children who witness violence at home display emotional and behavioral disturbances as diverse as withdrawal, low self-esteem, nightmares, self-blame and aggression against peers, family members and property.
    (Peled, Inat, Jaffe, Peter G. & Edleson, Jeffrey L. (Eds.) Ending the Cycle of Violence: Community Responses to Children of Battered Women. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 1995)

    A comparison of delinquent and nondelinquent youth found that a history of family violence or abuse is the most significant difference between the two groups.
    (Miller, G. “Violence By and Against America’s Children,” Journal of Juvenile Justice Digest, XVII(12) p.6. 1989)

    In comparing children not exposed to violence as contrasted to children who witness violence and children who both witness and are abused, data suggest that the latter two groups are most comparable and have heightened behavioral and emotional distress as compared to the former
    (Hughes et al., 1989).

    Boys become aggressive, fighting with siblings and schoolmates and having temper tantrums. Girls are more likely to become passive, clinging, and withdrawn.
    (Hilberman and Munson, 1977-78)

    Wisconsin Help Lines

    Oakwood Haven (LCO)

    Domestic & Sexual Abuse Shelter

    (715) 634-9360

    Crisis Line


    Sawyer County Sexual Assault Advocate

    Hayward WI

    (715) 638-3451

    CASDA Crisis Line Abuse Center


    Time Our Family Abuse


    Ladysmith, WI

    (715) 532-7089

    New Day Shelter



    (715) 682-9565

    Native American


    WI State Wide Shelter

    (715) 588-7660

    WI Coalition Against Domestic Violence

    (608) 255-0539

    WI Coalition Against Sexual Assault

    (608) 257-1516

    Stevens Point


    River Falls






    Bolton Refuge/Eau Claire


    Chippewa Falls


    People Against Violence/Beaver Dam







    Stalking in Indian Country

    January is National Stalking Month. In all 50 States stalking is a criminal act. The statistic that sticks out in my mind is that 3/4 femicide (women murdered) were stalked 12 months prior to the murder. Combinations of physical abuse plus stalking equal a higher indicator of lethality than either behavior alone.

    There is no definite profile of stalkers. When stalkers were studied they referred to women as prey more than human beings.

    Technology and stalking using an e-card on the internet is horrific in an obvious technique to induce fear in the receiver of the card. The sender need only add what color the person’s hair is or what color is that person’s eyes and it implies that the sender is watching the receiver. This was a chilling display of the light hearted attitude America views such serious and often times deadly result of stalking. It is a display in a new method of stalking and that is technology, phones, cameras, global positioning systems (GPS), computers (internet), spy-ware, assistive technologies and social networking sites. The anonymity of simply clicking, testing and pushing send to terrorize is becoming more and more prevalent and the impact of this new age stalking can be just as deadly to victims.

    Because stalking and the combination of domestic violence have such high statistics that end in murder or femicide tribes need to revisit their domestic abuse codes and in the process consider technological stalking in the amendments. Developing and implementing domestic violence codes as well as anti-stalking codes prevent violence and promote peace. A stalking code can be passed in the harassment ordinance as in the Quileute tribal code.

    The Violence Against Woman Act II (VOWA II), signed into law effective November 1, 2000, clarifies some of the confusion that has resulted from public policy, particularly around the authority of tribal courts to enforce civil protection orders against non-Indians. However, a number of barriers still prevent Native stalking victims in Indian country from seeking the safety and justice they deserve. Indian Nation governments that design, develop, and implement their own culturally-specific legal code to address domestic violence and stalking crimes will further their sovereignty by protecting their citizens, empowering victims of stalking, and holding perpetrators of these crimes accountable.

    For more resources on stalking:

    Stalking resource center

    Practitioners: 202-467-8700

    Victims: 1-800-FYI-CALL