Miss Indian World crowned at Albuquerque powwow

The Associated Press

Taylor Thomas, 21, from Fort Hall, was crowned 2014 Miss Indian World at the 31st Annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, N.M., this weekend.

Taylor Thomas, 21, from Fort Hall, was crowned 2014 Miss Indian World at the 31st Annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, N.M., this weekend.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Idaho State University student has earned the title of Miss Indian World.

Pageant officials say 21-year-old Taylor Thomas was crowned Saturday night at the 31st Annual Gathering of Nations at the University of New Mexico Arena in Albuquerque.

Thomas, a member of the Shoshone Bannock tribe, was chosen among 23 Native American women from different tribes and traditions.

As Miss Indian World, Thomas will visit native and indigenous communities around the world and serve as a cultural goodwill ambassador for a year.

The crowning closed three days of festivities at what is considered North America’s largest powwow. The event draws hundreds of competitive dancers and tens of thousands of spectators from across the U.S. and parts of Canada and Mexico.

Twenty-three-year-old Megan Leary, of Napaimute, Alaska, was first runner-up.

VAWA advocate closes operation after DOJ questions funding

Diane Millich, Southern Ute, shared her story of surviving domestic violence, at the signing of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act on March 7, 2013. Photo from National Congress of American Indians

Diane Millich, Southern Ute, shared her story of surviving domestic violence, at the signing of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act on March 7, 2013. Photo from National Congress of American Indians

By indianz.com
A survivor of domestic violence has shut down her operation due to a loss of federal funds from the Department of Justice.

Diane Millich, a member of the Southern Ute Tribe of of Colorado, made national news a year ago at the signing of S.47, a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that recognizes tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders. She shared her story of surviving abuse and a near-fatal shooting at the hands of her non-Indian former husband.

“Today is about women like Diane. I’m so grateful Diane shared her story. That takes great courage,” President Barack Obama said at the signing ceremony.

Millich created a non-profit called Our Sister’s Keeper Coalition to help other survivors. But DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women cut off all federal funds in 2012 and the group shut its doors in September, The Durango Herald reports.

“We were serving a lot of women,” Dedra White, the group’s former director and Millich’s sister, told the paper. “A lot.”

According to DOJ’s Office of Inspector General, Our Sister’s Keeper Coalition received $570,000 in federal funds between 2007 and 2011. Of that amount, auditors found problems with about $200,000 in spending that were considered “unsupported” and “unallowable.”

“We found that, OSKC did not comply with essential grant conditions in the areas of internal controls, grant drawdowns, grant expenditures, budget management and control, grant reporting, and grant goals and accomplishments,” the March 5 report stated. “Most significantly, OSKC commingled the OVW grant funds with funding from other sources, did not consistently identify funding sources for expenditures, made drawdowns in excess of grant expenditures, charged unallowable and unsupported costs to the grant, did not submit accurate or timely grant reports, and did not meet grant goals and objectives.”

Millich did not talk to the paper about the audit.

Get the Story:
Sister’s Keeper under criticism for funds use (The Durango Herald 3/12) DOJ Office of Inspector General Report:
udit of the Office on Violence Against Women Grants Awarded to Our Sister’s Keeper Coalition, Durango, Colorado (Redacted Version), Audit Report GR-60-14-004 (March 5, 2014)

For Abused Native American Women, New Law Provides A ‘Ray Of Hope’

Deborah Parker, vice chair of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington state, reacts to President Barack Obama signing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 in Washington.Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Deborah Parker, vice chair of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington state, reacts to President Barack Obama signing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 in Washington.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

By Hansi Lo Wang, from NPR All Things Considered show

This Thursday, three Native American tribes are changing how they administer justice.

For almost four decades, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling has barred tribes from prosecuting non-American Indian defendants. But as part of last year’s re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a new program now allows tribes to try some non-Indian defendants in domestic abuse cases.

It will be another year before the program expands to other eligible federally-recognized tribes around the country in March 2015. But the Department of Justice has selected three tribes to exercise this authority first, including the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, and the Tulalip Tribes, located north of Seattle.

‘Going To War’

Deborah Parker serves as the Tulalip Tribes’ vice chair. For three years, she flew back and forth between Washington state and Washington, D.C., giving speeches and knocking on doors — an experience that she says felt like “going to war.”

“You got to go to battle,” Parker says, “and you have to convince a lot of people that native women are worth protecting,”

And that protection, Parker was convinced, had to come from Congress. So she pushed for legislation allowing American Indian tribes to prosecute non-Indian defendants in domestic violence cases.

About four out of every ten women of American Indian or Alaskan Native descent have “experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s an alarming statistic that Parker knows all too well from growing up on the reservation.

“We didn’t have a strong police presence when I was younger. Even [if you called] the police, often they didn’t respond,” she says. “When they did, they would say, ‘Oh, it’s not our jurisdiction, sorry.’ [And] prosecutors wouldn’t show up.”

A Question Of Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is the key word in this discussion.

In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe that tribal governments have no jurisdiction over crimes committed by non-Native Americans on tribal land.

Instead, tribes have to rely on federal prosecutors to take on such cases, and prosecutors have not always been able or willing to consistently pursue reports of domestic violence.

Deborah Parker and other advocates pushed to address this issue — and some lawmakers in Congress pushed back.

One of the most vocal opponents of the new program was Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa. He voiced his concerns about the constitutionality of the program during a Senate debate last February, weeks before the Violence Against Women Act was reauthorized.

“The key stumbling block to enacting a bill at this time is the provision concerning Indian tribal courts,” Grassley said, referring to a provision that allows American Indian tribal courts to have jurisdiction over non-Indians accused of domestic violence.

Stepping Towards A Solution

But Fred Urbina, chief prosecutor for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, says the provision that passed is fairly complicated and narrow. “This basically helped it pass through Congress and get approval, so everybody’s describing this as a first step,” he says.

The “special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction” program is limited to certain domestic violence cases involving non-Native American defendants who are in existing relationships with Native Americans and living or working on the reservation. In Alaska, it only applies to the Metlakatla Indian Community of Annette Islands Reserve.

Still, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s Attorney General Amanda Sampson Lomayesva says the program will offer a new route for justice.

“It is a ray of hope,” she says “Maybe we can start protecting people and having the tribal members who live here on the reservation feel like something will be done.”

Brent Leonhard, an attorney for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, also sees the program as a partial solution to “a mess created both by a Supreme Court decision and by federal law and policy.”

“This is a step towards trying to improve that,” he says.

Parker acknowledges that the program “doesn’t answer all the questions” about how tribal governments can play a more direct role in addressing crime by non-Native Americans.

“But it allows us to exert jurisdiction and arrest those who violate protection orders [and commit] dating violence [or] domestic violence,” says Parker, who adds that she hopes the program will give a stronger voice to more Native American women

Rape Pandemic: Assaults in Asia, Pacific Close to Rate in Indian Country

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

The United Nations conducted a study on men and violence in Asia and the Pacific, surveying more than 10,000 men at nine sites in six countries: Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka.

About 23 percent of men at the survey site in China said they had committed at least one rape. At the Papua New Guinea site, 61 percent of men admitted to rape.

National crime statistics already indicate that 1 in 3 American Indian women will be raped in their lifetimes, and new clarification of the definition of rape by the Obama administration—to include women, men, and children—reveal the incidence of rape in Native communities may be much higher.

RELATED: Rape Data for Indian Country Has Failed to Capture Complete Picture

Rachel Jewkes, the lead technical adviser for the UN study, explained to National Geographic the probable reasons for the high occurrence of rape in Asia and the Pacific. The areas where the study was conducted mirror some of the conditions in Indian country affected by rape, namely persistent poverty and high alcohol and drug use.

Speaking in regards to Asia and the Pacific, Jewkes said, “Sexual entitlement is the most common motivation across all of these countries. I think that very, very strongly points to the root of rape in gender relations, and the fact that rape is really legitimized in so many of these countries.”

Jewkes elaborated on sexual entitlement:

“Sexual entitlement means feeling that you ought to be able to have sex with a woman—essentially, if you want it, you can have it. The flip side of that is [the idea] that it’s a woman’s responsibility to make sure that she doesn’t have sex when she doesn’t want it. If a woman is raped, she would be blamed for putting herself at risk for being raped.”

Jewkes attributes the high incidence of rape in Papua New Guinea to an “extremely patriarchal” culture and one that “is extremely accepting of the use of violence in a whole range of different circumstances. It’s not just gender-based violence, but also very severe and frequent use of violence in childrearing, and a lot of fighting in the community between men.”

Jewkes ultimately determined that rape is comparatively less common in more peaceable countries.

“The two countries that really spring to mind are Bangladesh and most of Indonesia. Alcohol use is much lower in Bangladesh and in Indonesia, too. They are both Muslim countries, they both have relatively strict social mores around sex, and one way or another child abuse is less common in those countries. Child abuse really is strongly associated with rape and violence later on.”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com//2013/09/21/un-study-rape-asia-pacific-close-rates-indian-country-151366

Harper Solicits Research to Blame First Nations for Murdered, Missing and Traded Indigenous Women

Pam Palmater, Intercontinental Cry

Canada’s shameful colonial history as it relates to Indigenous peoples and women specifically is not well known by the public at large. The most horrific of Canada’s abuses against Indigenous peoples are not taught in schools. Even public discussion around issues like genocide have been censored by successive federal governments, and most notably by Harper’s Conservatives. Recently, the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights refused to use the term “genocide” to describe Canada’s laws, policies and actions towards Indigenous peoples which led to millions of deaths. The reason?: because that term was not acceptable to the federal government and the museum is after all, a Crown corporation.

Aside from the fact that this museum will be used as a propaganda tool for Canada vis-à-vis the international community, Harper’s Conservatives are also paying for targeted research to back up their propaganda as it relates to murdered, missing and traded Indigenous women. This is not the first time that Harper has paid for counter information and propaganda material as it relates to Indigenous peoples, and it likely won’t be the last. However, this instance of soliciting targeted research to help the government blame Indigenous peoples for their own victimization and oppression is particularly reprehensible given the massive loss of life involved over time.

The issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women was made very public by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) several years ago through their dedicated research, community engagement and advocacy efforts. Even the United Nations took notice and starting commenting on Canada’s obligation to address this serious issue. Yet, in typical Harper-Conservative style, once the issue became a hot topic in the media, they cut critical funding to NWAC’s Sisters in Spirit program which was the heart of their research and advocacy into murdered and missing Indigenous women.

To further complicate the matter, any attempts for a national inquiry into the issue has been thwarted by the federal government, despite support for such an inquiry by the provinces and territories. One need only look at the fiasco of the Pickton Inquiry in British Columbia to understand how little governments in Canada value the lives of Indigenous women, their families and communities. The inquiry was headed by Wally Oppal, the same man who previously denied the claims of Indigenous women who were forcibly sterilized against their knowledge and consent. The inquiry seemed more interested in insulating the RCMP from investigation and prosecution than it was about hearing the stories of Indigenous women.

Now, the Canadian public has to deal with a new chapter to this story – the sale of Indigenous women into the sex trades. The CBC recently reported that current research shows that Indigenous women, girls and babies in Canada were taken onto US ships to be sold into the sex trade. While this is not new information for Indigenous peoples, it is something that Canada has refused to recognize in the past. The research also shows that Indigenous women are brought onto these boats never to be seen from again.

The issue of murdered and missing Indigenous women has now expanded to murdered, missing and traded women. One might have expected a reaction from both the Canadian government and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). Yet, the day after the story hit the news, the AFN was tweeting about local competitions and the federal government was essentially silent. I say essentially, because while all of this was taking place, the federal government put together a Request for Proposals on MERX (#275751) to solicit research to blame the families and communities of Indigenous women for being sold into the sex trade.

Instead of making a call for true academic research into the actual causes and conditions around Indigenous women, girls and babies being sold into the sex trade, the federal government solicited research to prove:

(1) the involvement of family members in their victimization;

(2) the level to which domestic violence is linked to the sale of Indigenous women into the sex trade; and

(3) even where they are investigating gang involvement, it is within the context of family involvement of the trade of Indigenous women.

The parameters of the research excludes looking into federal and/or provincial laws and policies towards Indigenous peoples; funding mechanisms which prejudice them and maintain them in the very poverty the research identifies; and negative societal attitudes formed due to government positions vis-à-vis Indigenous women like:

  • rapes and abuse in residential schools;
  • forced sterilizations;
  • the theft of thousands of Indigenous children into foster care;
  • the over-representation of Indigenous women in jails;
  • and the many generations of Indigenous women losing their Indian status and membership and being kicked off reserves by federal law.

The research also leaves out a critical aspect of this research which is federal and provincial enforcement laws, policies and actions or lack thereof in regards to the reports of murdered, missing and traded Indigenous women, girls and babies. The epic failure of police to follow up on reports and do proper investigations related to these issues have led some experts to conclude that this could have prevented and addressed murdered, missing and traded Indigenous women. Of even greater concern are the allegations that have surfaced in the media in relation to RCMP members sexually assaulting Indigenous women and girls.

This MERX Request for Proposals is offensive and should be retracted and re-issued in a more academically-sound manner which looks to get at the full truth, versus a federally-approved pre-determined outcome.

It’s time Canada opened up the books, and shed light on the real atrocities in this country so that we can all move forward and address them.


Originally published at

Indigenous Nationhood