Native American

Violence Against Native American Women


The rate of violent crime estimated against Native Americans is well above that of other U.S. racial or ethnic groups and more than two times the national average.

From: American Indians and Crime Report
US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics-Perry 2004

Approximately 60% of the Native American population in ND resides on one of four reservations and 41% of the Native American population in ND is under the age of 20. Even though as a whole Native Americans comprise only 5%, violent victimization occurs at an alarming rate both on and off the reservations.

From: North Dakota Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence State Plan-2009


Violence against Native Americans can be largely attributed to the immigration of Europeans to North America beginning over 600 years ago. This began the change in the status of Native women, once held as leaders, considered sacred and much respected; the Europeans enforced their values and perpetuated the belief that violence against women, particularly their partner was acceptable.

This began the downward spiral into assimilation. Led by the belief that the European, or "white man's way" was the best way; Native Americans were forced onto reservations and to give up many of their long practiced traditions and cultural beliefs.

This was also a time when children were removed from their parents and forced into Catholic boarding schools. They were often raped, abused and forced to develop a different value and belief system. This system has created lifelong implications for generations to come. This often includes loss of traditional parenting, the introduction of alcohol and violence as well as the idea of ownership.

Native men went from experiencing the non-violent way of living to witnessing violence; adopting "white man" stereotypes and treating women and children as property. The status of Native American women also began to shift at this point. Rape, abuse and murder became common practice against Native women. Women were no longer considered sacred.

As a result of these changes, violence and oppression have become the norm and efforts to end the violence are still in their early stages. To continue to combat the violence that is now seen as "normal;" many people are working to restore traditional values and cultural beliefs. One of the most important of those values is that women are sacred.

Adapted from: Praxis International

Native culture is grounded in the knowledge that we are all related, that the values of respect, compassion and non-violence are integral to our survival, and that women truly are sacred. Historically among Indian people, what we now call "confidentiality" was the practice of honoring individual’s life changes and paths and the right to walk through the world with freedom, safety and respect. We have an alternative to utilizing the hierarchical medical model of dominant society as a basis for the way we do our work. The work in Indian Country to end violence against Native women and their children is powerful when the indigenous culture, beliefs and worldview are used as models.

Sacred Circle, National Resource Center to End Violence Against Native Women

National Facts

Rural women living on reservations face unique challenges when dealing with violence. Not only are there generally a limited number of police officers to respond to calls that cover vast distances, but on tribal lands there are often unresolved jurisdictional issues about who will respond to the calls. Many tribes do not have jails, so there is very little they can do to enforce laws. In addition to these complicated jurisdictional barriers, many Native women have limited access to telephones, transportation, emergency services, or accessible roads, especially in inclimate weather.

Rebecca St. George
Mending the Sacred Hoop Technical Assistance Project, Duluth, MN: Feb. 2001

  • Native Women:
  • In 2001 more than 588,000 American women were victims of non-fatal violence committed by an intimate partner.

  • Other Race Offenders:
  • At least 70% of violence experienced by Native Americans is committed by persons not of the same race…substantially higher than for whites or blacks.

  • Most Victimized:
  • The average violent crime rate among American Indians per year is approximately 2.5 times higher than the national rate.

  • Rape:
  • The average rate of rape and sexual assault among American Indians per year is 3.5 times higher than all other races.

  • Aggravated Assault:
  • Native American victims reported at a rate more than double that of all races. (All races: 11 per 1,000; Native Americans: 35 per 1,000)

  • Simple Assault:
  • Native American victims reported at a rate more than double that of all races. (All races: 31 per 1,000; Native Americans: 70 per 1,000)

  • Stalking:
  • Seventeen percent of Native American women have been stalked

  • Overall:
  • Violent crime rate among Native American Women was 98 per 1,000. More than twice that of whites (40 per 1,000) or blacks (56 per 1,000).

  • Victim-Offender Relationship:
  • Native American's victim-offender relationship was about the same as that reported by all other races.

  • Injuries:
  • Native American victims of intimate and family violence are more likely than victims of all other races to be injured and need hospital care. (Medical costs were more than $21 million over a 4-year period.)

  • Race of Offender:
  • At least 70% of the violence victimizations experienced by Native Americans are committed by persons not of the same race - substantially higher rate of interracial violence than experienced by white or black victims.

    From: American Indians and Crime Report
    US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics - Feb. 1999

    *Please note: Although these statistics are national statistics, they don't reflect what occurs most commonly around North Dakota. In fact, quite the opposite has been observed. Most of the reported intimate partner offenses committed against Native Americans are being perpetrated by other Native Americans.

    Local and State Resources to End Violence Against Native Women

    First Nation's Women's Alliance
    P.O. Box 162
    Tokio, ND 58379-0162

    *Please see ND Guide to Services for a complete list of local domestic violence and sexual assault programs around the state.

    National Resources to End Violence Against Native Women

    Sacred Circle
    722 St. Joseph Street
    Rapid City, SD 57701
    Ph. (605) 341-2050
    Toll Free 1-877-RED-ROAD
    Fax (605) 341-2472

    Mending the Sacred Hoop Technical Assistance Project
    202 E Superior Street
    Duluth, MN 55802
    Ph. (218) 722-2781
    Fax (218) 722-5775

    Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center
    2300 15th Avenue
    Minneapolis, MN 55404
    Ph. (612) 728-2000
    Fax (612) 728-2039

    White Bison, INC.
    6145 Lehman Drive
    Colorado Springs, CO 80918
    Ph. (719) 548-1000
    Fax (719) 548-9407

    Peaceful Nations
    1208 San Pedro NE
    Albuquerque, NM 87110
    Ph. (505) 268-5863
    Fax (505) 268-7462

    American Indian Law Center, Inc.
    PO Box 4456 Station A
    Albuquerque, NM 87196
    Ph. (505) 277-5462
    Fax (505) 277-1035

    Cangleska, Inc (outreach services)
    PO Box 3003
    Pine Ridge, SD 57770
    Ph. (605) 867-1035
    Fax (605) 867-1728