Abstract: In this Policy Insights Brief, the NCAI Policy Research Center synthesizes available data on violence against Native women to guide policy decision-making and media reporting. This brief aims to provide detail on previously reported statistics and original sources of data used often in policy discussions.
In this Policy Insights Brief, the NCAI Policy Research Center synthesizes available data on violence against Native women to guide policy decision-making and media reporting. This brief stands alongside other materials in the Violence Against Women Act Toolkit by the National Congress of American Indians to demonstrate the need for a policy framework with funded, enforceable regulations and tribal authority to protect Native women. This brief aims to provide detail on previously reported statistics and original sources of data used often in policy discussions. NCAI and NCAI’s Policy Research Center acknowledge the importance of regularly collecting more in depth and regular data for developing effective policy solutions.
As national policymakers consider legislation to reauthorize funding for critical domestic violence and sexual assault programs that aim to eliminate the pervasive violence against women, it is imperative that the context of disproportional violence against Native women remain in the forefront. As outlined in the data below, Native women experience violence at a higher rate than we would expect given their representation in the US population and at a higher rate than any other group.
From what we know about the high rates of intimate partner violence against Native women, about the fact that assaults against Native women tend to take place at private residences, about the reports from Native women of perceived perpetrator race, and about the high rates of interracial marriage and unmarried partners of Native women, it is clear that violence against Native women tends to be perpetrated by non-Native men. In other words, “while the majority of rapes and sexual assaults against other women were intra-racial, victimizations against American Indian and Alaska Native women were more likely to be interracial” (Bachman, et al., 2008).
While there is a great need for more and better data on where violence against Native women occurs, the information available suggests that Native women on tribal lands lack the most government protections from the threat of violence against them. Consider the data below about the fact that assaults against Native women tend to take place at private residences, that a significant number of Native women live on tribal lands (often with their non-Native partners), that the death rate of Native women on some reservations is ten times the national average, that in recent times US Attorneys have declined to prosecute a majority of violent crimes in Indian country, and that tribes do not have the authority to prosecute non-Natives who commit violent crimes on tribal lands.