Not In Our Name – A Sobering Realization

Right now, as non-Native men, either of us could physically or sexually assault a Native woman on a Native American reservation and not be subjected to local jurisdiction. And many of us do. And get away with it.

“Native women are assaulted at higher rates than any other group in America. Non-Native people are the ones who are committing the (overwhelming) majority of crimes on tribal land. We should be able to have protections against this.”[1]

ImageFor this one moment, right now, this hateful, racist, and deadly legal loophole is being held up to the light for all to see. It is being addressed by the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This, then, is our moment to act. To support those Native women and men who have been working so hard to save lives.

VAWA is set to expire. Soon. And yet, in our name as white and non-native men, Eric Cantor, the GOP, and those that support them are sabotaging efforts to reform and reauthorize this law. They are boldly saying that continuing to hold white and non-native men NOT ACCOUNTABLE for the violence we commit IS PARAMOUNT to the protection, safety, and very lives of native and indigenous women.

Not in our name.

Hold us accountable. Hold all those who commit violence accountable regardless of who they are, and regardless of who their victims are.

How many of us white and/or non-native men are aware that this is even happening? These levels of violence with no mechanism for accountability?

This legal loophole has sustained the epidemic levels of primarily non-native men’s violence against Native women – domestic violence and sexual violence, and often both. And many white and/or non-native men INTENTIONALLY exploit it.

“According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, 1 out of 3 Native women will be raped in her lifetime and 3 out of 5 will be physically assaulted, while their offenders escape prosecution under the color of discriminatory United States law. In this human rights crisis, Native women are murdered at rates 10 times the national average, and subjected to domestic violence and assault at staggering rates — rates 2½ times higher than any other group in the United States.”[2]

Every man falls into one of two main camps on this issue:

We are either committing this violence ourselves, or allowing it to occur in our names.

And neither is okay.

Not in our names.

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If you agree but are wondering, “I don’t know anything about this stuff. Where would I even start?”

Well, great question, and so glad you asked! It can be daunting, and time is of the essence. So let’s start here. We must support the Senate version of VAWA re-authorization.

Sincerely and in brotherhood,

Joe Samalin, Sacchi Patel

The real credit and great appreciation goes to: Lauren Chief Elk (Project Wiyabi), Bix Gabriel (TakeTwo Services), Ben Atherton-Zeman (Voices of Men), and others who have educated us about this issue, and many other things.