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June 2014
Photo of a man camp taken on the way to Williston, ND

Photo of a man camp taken on the way to Williston, ND

On Monday, Jane and Elizabeth flew out to the Midwest to begin work on 3G’s newest project which will focus on the trafficking of Native American girls in the man camps that have sprung up around the Bakken Oil Fields of Montana, North and South Dakota. Several articles* have been written in recent months highlighting the disturbing spike in drugs, crime and prostitution that communities supporting these man camps typically witness. None however, address the particular plight of the region’s Native American population whose poverty often makes them a target for exploitation. To learn more about this story, take a look at program specialist at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Lisa Brunner’s testimony from the hearing on “Combating Human Trafficking” back in September of 2013, and be sure to follow us on Facebook for updates on Jane and Elizabeth’s travels.

* NPR, Al Jazeera America, Huffington Post & Mint Press News

Testimony of Lisa Brunner, Program Specialist, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center

Hearing on “Combating Human Trafficking: Federal, State, and Local Perspectives” before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Monday, September 23, 2013

http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/hearings/combating-human-trafficking-federal-state-and-local-perspectives

Human Trafficking of Native women in the United States is not a new era of violence against Native women but rather the continuation of a lengthy historical one with the colonization of America through wars, forced removal from their homelands to reservations, boarding schools and forced urban relocation. Domestic human trafficking in the United States has a longstanding history.

Native women experience violent victimization at a higher rate than any other U.S. population. Congressional findings are that Native American and Alaska Native women are raped 34.1%, more than 1 in 3, will be raped in their lifetime, 64%, more than 6 in 10, will be physically assaulted. Native women are stalked more than twice the rate of other women. Native women are murdered at more than ten times the national average. Non-Indians commit 88% of violent crimes against Native women.

Given the above statistical data and the historical roots of violence against Native women, the level of human trafficking given the sparse data collected can only equate to the current epidemic levels we face within our tribal communities and Nations.

As an enrolled member of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation in Minnesota, I live, work and raise my children on my reservation. I have worked for over 15 years addressing domestic violence and sexual assault of Native women and have witnessed and heard countless stories of human trafficking occurring to the point that we have girls as young as 12 years olds who are victims. With the introduction of heroin, we now have an epidemic of the same age group and up of girls and women who are trafficked now have heroin needles in their arms. Native women and girls are sold for $20 worth of heroin.

We have mothers call local county sheriffs departments reporting their daughters missing only to be told, “We have better things to do with our time or why don’t you be a mother and know where the hell your daughter is”. It is difficult given the jurisdictional complexity of the 566 federally recognized tribes in the country with non-Public Law 280, Public Law 280, 638 Contract, Land Claim Settlement States, Oklahoma’s checkerboard and Alaska Native villages. To add to the complexity, if the perpetrator is non-Native, then the Tribes and Alaska Villages do not have criminal jurisdiction

With the recent wide-range impact of extractive industries such as oil fracking and pipelines is predatory economics at its worse for the Fort Berthold Nation in North Dakota and Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. With the fracking of the Bakken formation, comes “man camps’. The victim advocates responding to calls for service on Forth Berthold said there has been a doubling and tripling of numbers of sexual assaults, domestic violence and human trafficking incidents since 2008.

The multiple layers of issues that have come to the forefront are the lack of documentation of these man camps. Emergency services often can’t find their locations and since they are located in isolated and desolate areas, there often are no cell phone services available. There are two types of man camps: documented and undocumented. Undocumented camps are often 50-100 trailers that a rancher or farmer has set up on his land to rent out and make money. These undocumented camps present a special problem for emergency services and organizations since they don’t exist on a map or have addresses.

The other issue involved with the man camps in Forth Berthold is lack of monitoring and registration of sex offenders whether they are in the documented or undocumented man camps that pose a serious threat to the safety of women and children in the area.

In Montana, the Bakken Oil Boom has impacted the largest reservation, Fort Peck, and residing counties have experienced both a population and crime explosion.

The majority of employees from the oil rigs are not from Fort Peck Tribes or Roosevelt County or even from Montana. There have been documented increases in drug use and human trafficking, theft, alcohol related incidents and assaults within the last year. Law enforcement response, tribal DV/SA services, and medical response to these crimes have tripled in the last year.

Within Northeastern Montana there are currently three man camps with several more only seventy miles away in the neighboring state of North Dakota. Many Tribal advocates have responded to victims that have been trafficked at the man camps often preying on young native women. Groups of men from the man camps use free access to drugs and alcohol as a method of coercion for young native women to “get in the car” and go party. This has resulted in 11 young native women ranging from the ages of 16-21 years of age reporting rape, gang rape and other sex acts; the majority of these victims are afraid to report due to fear and shame.

The Fort Peck Tribes SORNA program reports that one year ago there were forty- eight registered sex offenders and now there are over six hundred registered sex offenders. The struggle has been that non-native sex offenders to do not recognize the tribal jurisdiction and feel they “do not” have to report to the tribal SORNA program. However, the U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement agencies have assisted in gaining registration of known sex offenders on the tribal registry.

Another aspect of to the domestic human trafficking issues in the U.S. and Tribal Nations is the U.S. Adoption Industry. In an article in Indian Country Today titled: Trafficking of Native Children: The Seamy Underbelly of U.S. Adoption Industry brings to light the practice of selling Indian infants and children to the highest bidder which brings in revenue for lawyers from $25,000-$100,000 per child. In this article, it is stated that in 2012, 50 Native children were adopted out from North Dakota to South Carolina. These adoptions are done without the Tribes knowledge or consent or that of the biological fathers.

To really gain insight to domestic human trafficking in the U.S., one must take examine the many sectors in which this is facilitated, whether it be extractive industries, pimps, gangs, cartels, family members or lawyers working in an adoption industry. Many different avenues must be examined and taken into account to fully understand what leads to this epidemic of human trafficking that not only impacts Tribal Nations and Alaska Villages but all citizens of this country.

I am a Program Specialist with the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. Our role as an organization is to serve as a National Indian Resource Center that provides technical assistance/training, resource development, policy development, research activity and public awareness that also seeks to enhance Native American and Alaska Native tribes, Native Hawaiians, Tribal and Native Hawaiian organizations to respond to violence against Native women.

-PinkistheNewBlog, http://www.pinkisthenewblog.com/2014-05-25/why-its-important-to-keep-yesallwomen-trending-forever

-PinkistheNewBlog, http://www.pinkisthenewblog.com/2014-05-25/why-its-important-to-keep-yesallwomen-trending-forever

by Lillian Holman, 3Generations Intern

In 3Generation’s documentary Tricked about human trafficking within the United States, possibly one of the most disturbing moments is not in fact one of the horrifying accounts provided by the victims, but instead when the pimp Robert Money calmly tells the camera that “All women is either a prostitute or a whore. The definition of a prostitute is a woman that sells her pussy for money. A whore f***s for free.” In three sentences, he defines half the human population by their sexuality. There are no exceptions in his perverse logic and he says all women, not all people. Men can feel free to live on not being “whores,” but sexually active women are stuck with that label.

This quote had me thinking about issues that seem to be everywhere I turn recently, whether it be my Facebook newsfeed, the conversations on my college campus, or that slightly nervous feeling I get walking the streets by myself. Because people like Money exist, my identity as a woman has become a hindrance rather than something wonderful to be celebrated. It means that I can show too much at a party. It means that a person can look at me on the street and assume I cannot fight back. It means that my sexuality can define me rather than be relegated to the privacy of my bedroom. Frankly, these are all things I would rather not be thinking about. I would rather go to a party and feel like I look fabulous regardless of what I’m wearing, whether it be “too much” or “too little” in the eyes of someone else. I want to be able to go on adventures in my city and not feel like I need the buddy system in order to survive. I want the conversation about sex to begin and end with my partner and only my partner. I want to live my life as a grown woman and not constantly think about the fact that I’m a woman. Sadly this is not the world we live in, but it should be.

After the tragic shooting at UCSB last month, the two hashtags “#NOTALLMEN” and “#YESALLWOMEN” started making the rounds. One was defensive. One called for solidarity. They spurred lots of opinion pieces and discussion. What made me sad however, were the responses surrounding “#NOTALLMEN.” There was anger that men would dare to defend themselves against what they saw as attacks against their gender and suddenly it was one giant battle of the sexes rather than a united front against a crime of hate. These men were angry with women blaming them rather than angry with Elliot Rodger. The women were blaming all men rather than Elliot Rodger. What should have happened was that all people should have been angry at Elliot Rodger and his antiquated ideas. This is why I loved the men who used the hashtag “#YESALLWOMEN.” They almost uniformly wanted to understand more what it means to be a woman in a still sexist world and wanted to stand with women. They made this issue an “#ALLPEOPLE” issue as it should be.

This brings me to the issues that permeate college campuses right now. Sexual assault has come to the forefront as lawsuits come out left and right against colleges and college fraternities. A list of 55 colleges are being investigated by the federal government under Title IX because of their mishandling of sexual assault cases. At Stanford, a movement is underway called “#STANDWITHLEAH” because Leah’s rapist is being allowed to graduate even after being charged with raping her. At Wesleyan University, two all male fraternities are being sued for rapes that allegedly occurred on their premises. This has become an issue of gender because the victims that have come out in the lawsuits are predominately female and the perpetrators are predominately male. It is important to remember however, that anybody can be assaulted, regardless of gender, and anybody can be a perpetrator, regardless of gender. It is a point that has been sadly forgotten in the big debates and one that would help these lawsuits rather than harm them. Once again, this should be about people committing crimes against people, rather than about men committing crimes against women. At Wesleyan University one of the proposed solutions is forcing the all male fraternities to go coed with the logic being that women having a voice and a presence in these spaces would make other women feel safer. I like this solution because it supports the idea that everyone’s voice should be heard. Rather than living off of assumptions, experiences can be shared. Just like the men who scanned the “#YESALLWOMEN” tweets, the men in these organizations can learn about a different life experiences, women can experience firsthand that not all men are like these monsters, and this ridiculous divide can disappear. Perhaps then if one of their siblings gets raped, the anger can be directed exclusively at the perpetrator and justice can actually be served along the lines of a crime rather than a political issue.

It has taken tragedies to get these issues to be so prominent, but amazing people of all genders, many of whom I’m lucky enough to be peers with, have taken this as an opportunity to talk and stand up for what they believe in.  Hopefully what will result from all of these people standing up is a culture that views and condemns these “#FEWPEOPLE” as the monsters they are.

 

Further reading/watching:

 

“Yes, All Men”

by Charles Blow for The Slate

http://www.thestate.com/2014/06/04/3487863/blow-yes-all-men.html

 

“Violence against women-it’s a men’s issue”

by Jackson Katz for TEDxFiDiWomen

http://www.ted.com/talks/jackson_katz_violence_against_women_it_s_a_men_s_issue

 

“Stanford sexual assault victim demands tougher sanctions for offenders”

by Katy Murphy for The Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/stanford-sexual-assault-victim-demands-tougher-sanctions-for-offenders/2014/06/07/43580f2c-ee7d-11e3-b84b-3393a45b80f1_story.html

 

“Wesleyan Considers Coed Fraternities”

by Kathleen Megan for The Courant

http://articles.courant.com/2014-06-08/news/hc-wesleyan-fraternities-coed-20140530_1_greek-life-wesleyan-university-sexual-assault

Jane Wells, 3 Generations founder, and frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, has just published her latest blog addressing the scandal surrounding anti-sex trafficking crusader Somaly Mam’s resignation from her own foundation.  Click here to read her philosophy on being a responsible story-teller for survivors of the sex trade.

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