Native American women are murdered and sexually assaulted at rates as high as 10 times the average in certain counties in the United States—crimes overwhelmingly committed by individuals outside the Native American community. These crimes are particularly likely in remote settings where transient workers - oil workers, for example - live in temporary housing units called “man camps” on and near Tribal lands. Their crimes fall between jurisdictional cracks, leaving victims and their families without recourse. As Nick Martin summarized, these are “Patterns of violent men and extractive industries breezing through land they do not own to take lives that do not belong to them. Patterns of Tribal sovereignty being undermined and jurisdictional borders being crossed. Patterns of police dismissing concerned mothers and fathers and aunties and grandparents with the excuse that ‘runaways always come back.’ Patterns of coroners dodging paperwork and scrawling ‘other’ next to the line titled ‘Race’ and ‘accidental death’ next to ‘C.O.D.’ Continue reading from Cultural Survival
There is no clear profile of a person who kills or kidnaps indigenous women — attackers run the range from sex traffickers to serial killers, rapists, and even family members. There is no “typical” scenario. Instead, both indigenous activists and police point to systemic vulnerability. Indigenous women are vulnerable in all the ways other women in Canada are, only, to the extreme.
“It’s the socioeconomic conditions that colonization and genocidal institutions that have made them vulnerable,” Huntley said. “Perpetrators know who they’re going to get away with killing or not.”
Indigenous activists point to the legacy of colonialism in Canada for creating this environment — disenfranchisement from wealth, the push to put indigenous people on poor, isolated reserves, and the ongoing acts of cultural genocide against indigenous people.
The following are just some of the problems aboriginal people suffer from disproportionately:
Nine cities (13% of total) reported the inability to search for American Indian, Native American, or Alaska Native in their data reporting systems despite the common and expected practice of classifying victims by race in data systems. A representative from Santa Fe police wrote, “[Many] Native Americans adopted Hispanic names back during colonial times…Our crime systems are not flexible enough to pick out Native Americans from others in the system…it would be impossible to compile any statistically relevant information for you.” In Seattle, UIHI was initially provided one list then subsequently provided another. Considering they had significant overlap, UIHI asked for an explanation of the difference between the two and were told: “[Regarding the difference] the Homicide unit found that ‘N’ was being used in the 60s up through the late 70s and early 80s – meant Negro not Native American.” However, all of the names that were on the original list—which presumably had both American Indian and Alaska Native and African American names on it—were also on the second list and did not provide any clarification. Additionally, several police departments provided UIHI with data that included both American Indians and Indian-Americans with visibly Indian-American surnames (e.g. Singh). Continue reading from Urban Indian Health Institute Report