WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department announced today that it is awarding over $900,000 to four tribes chosen under the Safety for Indian Women from Sexual Assault Offenders Demonstration Initiative. This initiative is the latest effort by the Department's Office on Violence Against Women to enhance the response of tribal and federal agencies to the high rates of sexual assault against Indian women.
A federal tribal working group comprised of representatives from the Attorney General's Native American Issues Subcommittee; several U.S. Attorney's Offices; FBI; the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Indian Health Service; and tribal representatives assisted the Office in developing this initiative. The sites selected are the following: Hannahville Indian Community (Wilson, MI); Navajo Nation (Window Rock, AZ); Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians (Red Lake, MN); and Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Rosebud, SD).
The four demonstration sites will build upon an existing coordinated community response to sexual assault of Indian women by strengthening the capacity of tribal justice systems to immediately respond to sexual assault of Indian women, increasing advocacy and services to sexual assault victims, and strengthening coordination between tribal and federal agencies responding to sexual assault of Indian women. The Tribal Law and Policy Institute will provide technical assistance to the four sites, including the training of personnel handling sexual assault crimes and the development of policies and educational materials specific to each tribe's language, values, customs, and traditions. The Justice Department's Office on Violence Against Women will administer this 12-month Initiative.
According to a December 2004 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, American Indians are twice as likely to experience sexual assault crimes compared to all other races. In 2000, the National Institute of Justice published a report on the findings of the National Violence Against Women Survey which revealed that one in three Indian women reported having been raped during her lifetime.
"Native American women continue to be victimized by extremely high rates of sexual assault. Through a coordinated community response to these horrific crimes, sexual violence victims will receive the services they need based upon their individual circumstances," said Diane M. Stuart, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women.
More information about initiatives involving the Office on Violence Against Women is available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/vawo.