May 4, 2007
Ya'atééh and greeting to you all. The purpose of this letter is to say Ahé'héé (thank you) to the staff of Winslow Indian Health Care Center, (WIHCC), Marylou Nells, the Conference coordinator, Conference committee members, and particularly the presentation speakers who made it all possible for the 10th Annual Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Prevention Conference at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. As a NAU undergraduate student in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences department, I have experienced and participated in learning all aspects in the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence. In my studies of human behavior; domestic violence, alcoholism, and child abuse are the leading causes of dysfunctional families in Native people. Domestic violence has an enormous negative impact on our Navajo and Hopi people on the reservation today. Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income level, and ages are battered by their husbands, boyfriends, lovers, or intimate partners. "A woman is beaten every 15 seconds and the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States - more than car accidents, mugging, and rapes combined."
We, as Native people need to be aware of the severity of domestic violence in a relationship. Violent behavior within the family structure, "wife beating" the extreme of aggression has gained recognition throughout the Western world as a widespread social problem. Yet, little is known about what it feels like to be battered by someone you love. Our tribal officials need to understand and learn more about how [and why] women experience domestic violence. Women tend to remain in violent relationships [by] rationalizing what is happening to them. Only when the battered women reject these rationalizations and begin to view themselves as true victims does the [healing] process actually begin. Although the existence of violence against women in how publicly acknowledged, the experienced of being battered is poorly understood.
On the Native reservations, a woman is beaten every minute of the day and night. Their statistics of domestic violence is high, some are unreported because they are living in remote areas and resources of transportations, medical attention, and police protection is limited. According to James W. Zion, a Northern Arizona University advocate on Human rights, "To explain how domestic violence came to the Navajo people, we must recognize that it exists in a climate of institutionalized violence, where traditional values of equality and harmony have been broken down, and new forces have caused people to lose hope and replace with dependence and disharmony." In our Navajo society, we are seeking solution to domestic violence. We have known throughout our life, the problem of violence against women arise from the inequality and abuses of power and control.
In our Navajo custom, the husband and wife would maintain a martial home with the wife's mother and family. This tradition was designed to prevent domestic violence. I believe in the traditional values and beliefs of our Navajo ways that education never ends in our Sacred Circle of Life-Iiná. It has been taught by our elders and medicine men, Life-Iiná is twenty four hours learning process and how we survive in the western/traditional society, and the world beyond. Therefore, with the education and the philosophy of the Navajo, the healing and recovery of domestic violence begin within our spirituality being. In the reality of Iiná, it's considered an immorality, a taboo, an anti-social behavior and not parallel to our intellectual ways. We don't need to harm our grandmother, mother, sister, daughter, or other females. As the Native people, we are supposedly live in harmony, respect, love, and take care of each other as our Creator intended. On May 11, I graduated from NAU with a BS degree in Applied Sociology/Psychology and Corrections (Criminal Justice) as my emphasis. This is how education has guided my survival back to my family-dynamic from the negative consequence of alcoholism. Again, Ahe'héé.
Jonah H. Yazzie