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Cherokee Attorney Earns National Crime Victims' Service Award

Dianne Barker Harrold used her personal experience to build a career of helping others earning her the 2013 National Crime Victim Service Award.
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Dianne Barker Harrold took a seven-year experience with stalking and living in an abusive relationship and turned it into a 30-year career as an attorney dedicated to battered women and crime victims.

This year Harrold was recognized as a 2013 National Crime Victim Service Award honoree for her would that includes prosecuting abusers, founding a women’s shelter, acting as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Justice and speaking to tribes across the country on victim advocacy. The honor was delivered on April 24 by United States Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington D.C.

“This is definitely a humbling experience for me because I know there are advocates all over Indian country that do great work, and I share that honor with all of them,” said Barker Harrold, who works as the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Working with crime and domestic abuse victims has always been a passion of mine since I was also a victim of domestic violence in the 1970s.”

A native of Stilwell, Oklahoma, Barker Harrold spent eight years as a district attorney for Adair, Cherokee, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties. She was named Oklahoma’s Outstanding District Attorney twice. She helped found Help-in-Crisis in Tahlequah, a shelter for abuse victims now in it’s 33rd year. In her current role as a resource delivery coordinator with Unified Solutions Tribal Community Development Group in Tempe, Arizona, she provides training and technical assistance to U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime grantees.

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“We are proud of Dianne for winning this great honor and recognition. Without doubt, Dianne is one of the most prominent voices in all of Indian country for women’s rights,” said Bill John Baker, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. “She is highly respected for her advocacy and for her progressive ideas on ways to better serve Native survivors of violence. Her breadth and depth of experience is second to none.”

Barker Harrold has received numerous awards in her roles throughout the years and for her dedicated work on behalf of victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. In January of this year Baker appointed her as a founding member of the Charles L. Head One Fire Against Violence Task Force. The task force was created to “coordinate services for abuse and mental health victims with protective orders, job placement, emergency housing and other resource referrals.”

“We share a common goal of wanting to improve the lives of Cherokee people, especially our most vulnerable citizens: women, children and elders,” Baker said. “We believe it is a basic human right to live a healthy life—free from fear and intimidation—and we’re so grateful to have Dianne Barker Harrold with us helping make those goals a reality.”

Her nomination for the award came from Stanley L. Pryor, executive director of Unified Solutions, who said, “She has faced and overcome personal victimizations and challenges when services did not exist, supported victims in the maze of Indian Country Justice Systems, and continues to train, mentor and support tribal victims of crime.”

She lives in Tahlequah with her husband Dale, a semi-retired police officer. The couple have three daughters, 11 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.