OVW Tribal Consultation and the Power of “Voice”

August 16, 2018
Tribal Consultation

Sexual, dating, and domestic violence, as well as stalking and sex trafficking are prevalent issues in American Indian and Alaska Native communities (AI/AN).  On August 21, 2018, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) will be honoring missing and murdered indigenous women by wearing red. Join us in raising awareness of murdered and missing AI/AN women as well as the prevalence of sexual violence, human trafficking and domestic violence among indigenous communities and post #WhyWeWearRED with us on Twitter and other social channels.

AI/AN women are at an increased risk of violent victimization and are more likely to be victims of sexual and domestic violence compared to other women in the United States. AI/AN women are also more likely than other women to report that they were stalked. Despite high levels of violent victimization, AI/AN women are less likely to have access to victim services, including needed medical care and legal services.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides a framework and funding for OVW to respond to violence against AI/AN women to help protect and promote justice in tribal communities and strengthen victim services. Acknowledging tribal sovereignty, VAWA supports Tribes in implementing the VAWA tribal provisions to build their capacity to respond to violent crimes against AI/AN women.

VAWA mandates the Attorney General to conduct annual government-to-government consultation with tribal nations regarding the administration of VAWA funds and programs. OVW along with other federal partners, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of the Interior, have held annual Government-to-Government consultations since 2005.

Testimony provided by tribal leaders during the consultation event, including how OVW could better assist them, is summarized in an annual report on tribal recommendations regarding:

  • Enhancing the safety of AI/AN women from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and sex trafficking;
  • Strengthening the federal response to these crimes; and
  • Administering funds and programs for tribal governments established by VAWA and subsequent legislation.

As a result of these tribal consultations, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has undertaken numerous activities to respond to recommendations made by tribal leaders, including funding training for law enforcement and health care providers to strengthen law enforcement responses and increase access to specialized health care for sexual assault victims, while also supporting programs that educate communities about sexual assault prevention. DOJ has also established partnerships with tribal nations, sharing valuable crime data and supporting Native American victims of crime and consulting federal and tribal law enforcement to develop and implement federal sexual assault response guidelines. Additionally, in 2017 OVW launched the Tribal Technical Assistance Outreach Initiative to strengthen tribes’ capacity to address violence against women through coordinated community responses, sustainable housing, and emergency shelter for victims.

Most recently, in July 2018, OVW released a report summarizing a Roundtable discussion among American Indian and Alaska Native men who are involved in efforts to end domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. Native Men's Gathering: Turning Experiences into Actions provides examples and action steps to prevent violence against AI/AN women.

This year, OVW will hold its 13th annual tribal consultation on August 21 to 22, 2018, in Sioux Falls, SD, hosted by the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association. This two day tribal consultation will include a half day of interactive conversation, as Tribes have expressed interest in having open discussions between federal and tribal leaders during previous consultations.  Learn more about OVW’s grants and programs and join OVW as we continue to work to enhance safety and resources for AI/AN women.


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Updated August 16, 2018