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Sisters in Circle Take on Women's Issues on the Navajo Reservation

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Women in Shiprock, New Mexico are rallying together to confront domestic violence, sexual assault and women's health concerns on the Navajo reservation, reported The Daily Times. Referred to as the "Sisters in Circle," the group spearheaded by the program coordinator of the Healing Circle Drop-In Center, Shirley Montoya, has gained momentum since its recent conference in November that attracted nearly 300 mothers, grandmothers and daughters.

"The ball started rolling," Montoya told the Times. "Our focus is to develop leadership, to revive skills, to dig deep inside women and empower them."

In addition to holding conferences semiannually, the group meets regularly, functioning as a women's support group, and teaching women creative arts, Montoya said. Local artists like acclaimed Gloria Emerson, a visual artist and poet, support the program. "These are women who are deeply involved in serious social issues," Emerson said about the group of "sisters," including those who have made a profession out of social services and those seeking an outlet and comradery. "I am impressed with the quality and positivism."

Emerson is advocating for more support for the program, and hopes it will become incorporated as a nonprofit.

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The group's next step is to form small support circles across the Navajo reservation. Currently, two groups of women meet regularly in Shiprock and welcome new members. One group gathers from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. every Wednesday at the Healing Circle Drop-In Center. The second group meets from 9 a.m. to noon the first Wednesday of every month at the Navajo Nation Family Violence Prevention Office, located behind the Wells Fargo bank in Shiprock, reported the Times.

For more information, call Shirley Montoya at (505) 215-0814, and read more at "Circles of support: Local women band together" in the Times.