Thanksgiving In Context

By Talia Whyte
Special to Global Wire

Americans will soon sit down for another Thanksgiving dinner, a tradition stemming back to the Pilgrims’ first celebration in 1621. We know that the Pilgrims had a tumultuous relationship with Native Americans, through colonization, forced assimilation and especially violence. However, few people know that this relationship has left a lasting, negative effect on the Native American community today. Specifically, rape was used as a tool to create fear among Native American women by the colonizers. Today Native American women still live under a fear of sexual violence. A National Violence Against Women survey shows that 34% of Native American women have been raped at some point in their lives. This rate is three times higher than the rates of rape against women from all other ethnicities. Most shocking of all 87% of sexual assaults on Native American women are perpetuated by non-Native men. Most rapes go unreported because of lack of available resources for victims caused by poverty and poor response from understaffed law enforcement. Unfortunately victims also lack trust in the criminal justice system due to its history of racism. As we go through Thanksgiving this year, lets remember the legacy of the holiday within its context and act on ways to reverse its detrimental effects.

Amnesty International USA will be running a campaign starting November 25 to specifically highlight violence against Native American women. Native American women who suffer domestic violence or rape constantly lack safe shelters to which they can go to. Native American run shelters are the best option for survivors. According to AI, "in rural areas two important problems are the distances Native American women may have to travel to take advantage of any shelters (in some cases an hour or more by car one way) and the feeling of isolation from friends and family that survivors suffer which make it difficult for them to go to Native American run shelters so geographically and culturally far from their community." Amnesty International USA will running a series of letter/email writing campaigns in solidarity with Native American women survivors. To learn more about the campaign, go to www.amnestyusa.org/women/16days/


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