The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a culturally-appropriate confidential service for Native Americans affected by domestic violence or dating violence.
While commonalities exist for many survivors experiencing intimate partner violence (such as types and patterns of abuse, challenges, and barriers to safety), there are very unique experiences across Native and Alaskan Village communities. Some barriers are showcased within this collection and include:
- culturally specific forms of abuse,
- historical and intergenerational trauma of the colonization of tribes,
- jurisdiction barriers of revoked tribal jurisdiction of non-Natives perpetrators on tribal lands,
- infrastructure limitations to implement restored jurisdiction (tribal police, court systems, prisons),
- available resources and funding for all tribal programs and shelters,
- availability and/or enforcement of protection orders,
- availability and/or processing of sexual assault forensic examination kits,
- community confidentiality conflicts,
- accessibility of medical treatment,
- locality, and
- extremely long investigation processes that often involve the FBI and the United States government that have significantly low investigation statistics and far less prosecution numbers.
These barriers can be so significant that often times survivors do not seek help at all (Futures Without Violence).
For Alaska Natives, Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANSCA) tribal lands are not sovereign tribal lands; they are private property with a split estate: surface rights held by tribe, and subsurface rights held by the regional corporation established under ANSCA. For Alaska Natives, the FBI and the federal government do not investigate or prosecute crimes of domestic violence or sexual assault in Alaska as there is no Indian Country over which the federal government has jurisdiction. The State of Alaska is the responsible entity, as well as some municipalities for crimes committed within their jurisdictions. Villages are under the jurisdiction of the Alaska State Troopers and the State of Alaska court system. There are Village Public Safety Officers and Village Police Officers in some villages, but they are not investigatory in nature. This creates further barriers and complications for Alaska Native survivors of domestic violence.
- 34 percent of Native women are raped in their lifetimes.
- 39 percent are victims of domestic violence.
- According to a 2010 GAO Study, U.S. Attorneys declined to prosecute 67 percent of sexual abuse and related matters occurring in the lives of Native American women.
- Most violence against Native American women are perpetrated by non-Native men
- Except in the incidents of rural Alaska villages where most remote villages are 90-95% Native.
(National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center, 2013; University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center, 2010)