It’s funny, the stereotypes we given. Lazy, as if we ain’t build an entire country on our backs. Thieves, as if we wasn’t stolen from our home. Hateful, as if we was the ones that murder for dark skin. Selfish, as if we took over another people’s country and claimed they land as our own. Funny, how them stereotypes so perfectly describe the ones who done doomed us all.
Registered Native Americans, who make up about 1.4 percent of the 300 million total U.S. citizens, are distributed among some 560 tribal governments across the country. While these governments are given substantial autonomy over their internal affairs, the federal government has steadily eroded their authority, including their justice systems, particularly in areas that involve non-Native individuals or interests. In one of the most far-reaching cases, the Supreme Court ruled in 1978 that tribal governments cannot prosecute criminal defendants who are non-Indian even if the crime of which they are accused takes place on tribal lands. In addition, tribal authorities, many of whose communities suffer the highest poverty rates in the U.S., are chronically under-financed, leading to major gaps in law enforcement and the availability of social and health services as compared to non-Native communities. The report, which was based on Justice Department data and research in three states with proportionately large Native American populations—Alaska, South Dakota, and Oklahoma—found Indigenous girls and women suffered most from these deficiencies. “American Indian and Alaska Native women are living in a virtual war zone, where rape, abuse and murder are commonplace and sexual predators prey with impunity,” said Sarah Deer, an attorney at the California-based Tribal Law and Policy Institute. “In many tribal communities, rape and molestation are so common that young women fully expect that they will be victims of sexual violence at some point,” she noted, adding that the weakening of tribal justice systems by the federal government has made it far more difficult for victims of sexual violence to gain redress. Indeed, federal and tribal statistics may understate the degree of violence suffered by Native American women, according to the report, which noted that fear of retaliation and the lack of confidence that the authorities will take allegations of assault significantly reduce reporting of sexual assault throughout the United States, as well as in Native American communities.