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An Online Resource Library on Gender-Based Violence.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault has been experienced by Native women for centuries.  Used as a tool of war and colonization, rape was a way to conquer the people during attacks from the beginning of colonization.  The lack of responsibility, justice and criminal jurisdiction continues today on reservations, similar to the early American days of war and the appropriation of land during and after treaties.

"I call it hunting - non-natives come here hunting. They know they can come onto our lands and rape us with impunity because they know that we can't touch them." ~ Lisa Brunner, rape survivor advocate

“The Justice Department reports that one in three Native women is raped over her lifetime, while other sources report that many Native women are too demoralized to report rape.  Perhaps this is because federal prosecutors decline to prosecute 67 percent of sexual abuse cases, according to the Government Accountability Office. More than 80 percent of sex crimes on reservations are committed by non-Indian men, who are immune from prosecution by tribal courts” (Erdrich, 2013).

Erdrich. L. (2013). Also the author of “The Round House.” New York Times Op Ed, February 27, 2013, on page A25: Rape on the Reservation.


  • American Indians are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault crimes compared to all other races, and one in three Indian women reports having been raped during her lifetime.
  • 34 percent of Native women are raped in their lifetimes.
  • According to a 2010 GAO Study, U.S. Attorneys declined to prosecute 67 percent of sexual abuse, firearms violations, homicide and other violent crimes occurring in the lives of Native American women.
  • Violence against Native women occurs across a continuum in the lives of Native women at one end is verbal abuse and at the other end is murder. Most Native women do not report such crimes because of the belief that nothing will be done.

(National Institute of Justice, 2000US Government Accountability Office, 2010Amnesty International, 2007)