WASHINGTON ? Indian country's first domestic violence shelter and anti-violence program once again received financial help to fight violence on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation.
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe has received a grant of almost $400,000 to fight domestic violence on the reservation; this grant will be implemented by the White Buffalo Calf Women's Society.
At the Sept. 14 Senate Indian Affairs Committee field hearing in Rapid City, S.D., tribal leaders voiced concerns that domestic violence occurs at a greater rate on American Indian reservations than in other parts of the country.
"Women are finding relief in tribal court so there is more reporting," said Tillie Black Bear, director of the society, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in October.
"The violent crime rate for American Indian females is 98 per 1000 females, a rate higher than that found among white females at 40 per 1,000 or black females at 53 per 1,000," said Gregg Bourland, former Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, at the field hearing.
"This violence has been perpetrated since the days when the United States saw fit to target women and children in its war efforts against the tribal nations. The crime of rape was rare in native nations and the value of women is still alive in the oral history and traditional teachings. The on-going war on native women needs to stop."
Bourland added that funding for programs most often goes to states in the hopes that the funds would filter down to the tribal programs. He said that direct funding to tribes is essential in the battle against domestic violence.
Black Bear said her organization has a good working relationship with the Rosebud law enforcement and tribal justice departments, while Rosebud Department of Safety is bound by a mandatory arrest policy that went into effect in 1986.
The society also received a grant to begin on cross training for law enforcement officials from counties adjacent to the Rosebud reservation.
The grant will assist in work with law enforcement agencies to encourage the enforcement of protection orders and aid in strengthening legal services available to victims and enhance communication with police, prosecutors, probation personnel and judges.
"In cases of domestic or dating violence there are often hesitations in enforcing pro-arrest policies because of the intervening relationship between the victim and the assailant," said Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., in announcing the grant.
"It is vital to remember that most cases of abuse are domestic violence cases and the harm that occurs is severe and life-threatening. It is essential to act aggressively when enforcing the law in domestic violence cases by supporting arrest programs."