More than half of Native women have been sexually assaulted, including over a third who have been raped — a rate nearly 2.6 times higher than for white women, according to a 2016 National Institute of Justice study. Their assailants are often white and other non-Native men outside the jurisdiction of tribal law enforcement, according to an article published by “Hate in America,” an investigative project of the Carnegie-Knight News 21 multimedia reporting program.
In some U.S. counties composed primarily of Native lands, murder rates of Native women are up to 10 times higher than the national average for all races, according to a study for the U.S. Department of Justice.
“The numbers are likely much higher because cases are often under-reported and data isn’t officially collected,” said North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who introduced legislation to improve how law enforcement keeps track of missing and murdered indigenous women. (Heitkamp lost her seat in the 2018 midterm election.)
Minnesota’s U.S. Senator Tina Smith — a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee — introduced legislation to make sure tribes across the country are able to prosecute crimes of sexual violence committed by non-Native offenders.
Despite making up less than 1 percent of the Minnesota population — there are around 28,000 Native women and girls in Minnesota, according to the American Community Survey — Native women in the state are murdered at far higher rates than the national average, said Minnesota Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, a member of the Standing Rock Lakota tribe and the author of a bill that would create a task force on missing and murdered Native women in Minnesota.
Details: hateinamerica.news21.com; “Legislature proposes finding out why a staggering number of Native American women in Minnesota are murdered or go missing,” April 12, 2018, MinnPost.com