The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced $2.7 million in grants to be dispersed across seven agencies throughout the country as part of the Office on Violence Against Women’s Sexual Assault Justice Initiative. The Cherokee Nation is the lone tribe to receive a grant – worth almost $400,000.
The funds will go towards implementing a pilot program aimed at improving how the justice system, particularly prosecutors, handles sexual assault cases according to a Cherokee Nation press release.
“There is an epidemic of violence against women and sexual assault across Indian country, but with these new Department of Justice funds, the Cherokee Nation will be able to better protect our citizens and prosecute violent offenders,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Through our innovative and pioneering ONE FIRE program, we have created new avenues to offer aid to survivors of assault and violence. Now, through the VAWA funding, we can go after the predators who assault Native women.”
Over the next two years the Cherokee Nation will receive $390,544. With the funds, the “tribe’s Attorney General’s office, Cherokee Nation marshals and ONE FIRE will work together to improve prosecution processes and increase safety for victims of sexual assault,” the release stated.
Funding will also go towards specialized training for Cherokee Nation employees who work with sexual assault victims.
"The Cherokee Nation, throughout our history, has always honored the women of our tribe. They are the center of our families and communities,” said Attorney General Todd Hembree. “Violence against women cannot and will not be tolerated in our Nation. I am very proud that the Nation was awarded this grant. Chief Baker and the AG's office ensure these funds will be put to good use."
The seven grant recipients, within the pilot program, will implement measures of success for the handling of sexual assault cases that could improve practices in other agencies throughout the country.
For more information on services provided by the Cherokee Nation to victims of sexual assault, visit www.cherokee.org and click the ONE FIRE link under the services tab. For more information on the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women’s Sexual Assault Justice Initiative, visit www.justice.gov/briefing-room.