Better partnership with Feds needed to address violence against women

Winslow, Arizona shows its support for domestic violence victims by illuminating streets and businesses with purple lights and ribbons. (Photo/Navajo County Family Advocacy Center)

Winslow, Arizona shows its support for domestic violence victims by illuminating streets and businesses with purple lights and ribbons. (Photo/Navajo County Family Advocacy Center)

TULSA, Okla. - Council Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton (Shiprock) attended the 2023 Department of Justice Annual Government-to-Government Violence Against Women Tribal Consultation in Tulsa, Okla. Aug. 9.

Charles-Newton, who chairs the Law and Order Committee, called for increased partnership between the federal government and tribal nations in addressing the epidemic of violence against Native American women.

“Currently, we’re working with fragmented services and similar programs that operate under different departments,” Charles-Newton said. “This leads to widespread miscommunication and often, non-intervention. Federal departments need to work together for the betterment of tribes.”

In her testimony, Charles-Newton addressed the obstacles that tribal nations face regarding grant funding, public safety, funding of program staff, funding of critical tribal coalitions and data management.

“Many of these grants don’t really fix the problems we are seeing within our communities and within our tribal boundaries,” she said.

Charles-Newton recommended that federal officials eliminate the ‘one size fits all’ grant funding method because not all tribes face the same obstacles in terms of land base, enrollment, public safety services, employment opportunities, infrastructure and jurisdictional overlap.

“Our tribe is different and should have different factors considered when it comes to how grant funds are administered to the Nation,” Charles-Newton said. “From 2018 to 2020, our public safety service calls numbered approximately 239,376. In that same time frame, we had 21,429 arrests. Our police department has only 228 patrol officers covering 27,000 square miles with roughly 200,000 people living on it. These stats do not mirror the data across all tribal nations.”

Charles-Newton said that VAWA funding needs to be made available for staffing and salaries to those working within these program areas and recommended that grants be accessible to tribal coalitions that address domestic violence services on tribal nations.

“How can you create a grant to address domestic violence but not properly have funds allocated to staffing?” she said. “If we combined the efforts of tribes and coalitions, we could have a united front ensuring our victims are getting the help they need.”

Charles-Newton also called for grant funding to strengthen the system of reporting that is used to monitor and prosecute violent offenders including minors.

“We need pertinent data to be tracked and accessible to multidisciplinary teams who contribute to and observe these reports. Currently, a unified system of reporting and review does not exist,” she said. “We need a data management grant that allows sharing of information that can assist young victims and offenders. This type of information sharing is critical to protecting our communities.”

Charles-Newton said restorative care, prosecution and accountability are needed.

Funding needs to be directed to restorative justice programs for victims and minors who suffer from resulting trauma,” she said.

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