A Cheyenne proverb states, "A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors or how strong its weapons." Our hearts are not on the ground. Our feet are. And we are moving forward.
A travesty to the true spirit of justice is taking place on the Standing Rock Reservation that covers North and South Dakota. Predominantly white male rapists are sexually assaulting American Indian women and getting away with inadequate consequences or no consequences whatsoever.
Show me a rapist of an American Indian woman and I’ll show you an upstanding member of society. That’s what the Major said about a man who plead guilty to raping an American Indian woman. Maybe the thieves and vandals who have caused property damage so severe that Pretty Bird Woman House had to close its doors for now are "upstanding citizens" as well.
Thieves have stolen food and a television set from Pretty Bird Woman House. The very walls were smashed through to break inside or destroy it; then, it was set on fire.
(Not Pretty Bird Woman House)
What if this occurred in a Caucasian controlled city or county? Allow me to share a story from my personal experience.
I left a gig with horn and stand in hand; I was walking to the parking garage. I witnessed a couple fighting when I got to the elevator. "A little unusual, but none of my business," I thought. However, next the man called his girlfriend a slut and slammed her up against the wall. It became my business. While three others were standing around, wondering if they should call 911, I said "Stop" firmly to him. Ignoring me, he became more violent; so, I commanded her to get out of the elevator. One of the others was calling 911 at that point. She did not get out of the elevator, "My keys are in his truck." He lowered his head and pushed his hand towards me for me to back off; he couldn’t look me in the eye. I told her to get out again. The doors closed.
I told the others with cell phones to follow me up the stairs and to be calling 911. They bailed. I went to the second floor and waited. Nothing. I didn’t know which floor they went to, "Battered wife syndrome" I thought as I went down the stairs and found a police officer on the street. I told him what happened and he went into the parking garage to investigate. That is the difference between what happens on the Standing Rock Reservation and a Caucasian controlled city or county – justice.
In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled in Oliphant v. the Suquamish Indian Tribe that tribal governments have no criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians. When a crime is committed, tribal police and their non-Indian counterparts must hash out whether the suspect is Indian or not.
I have two primary reasons why I did what I did. The first one is that violence against women doesn’t happen in front of me; I won’t allow it. The second one is that that woman, whatever her name, is my cousin. She is my relative.
Please make a donation at the CHIPIN CAMPAIGN for the Pretty Bird Woman House to help keep the hearts of the women off the ground.
"I prefer to characterize rape simply as a form of torture. Like the torturer, the rapist is motivated by the urge to dominate, humiliate, and destroy his victim. Like a torturer, he does so by using the most intimate acts available to humans -- sexual ones."
Helen Benedict, Virgin or Vamp, 1992
I am grateful beyond words.