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In the United States, November marks Native American Heritage Month, a time dedicated to celebrating the contributions, lives, and cultures of Indigenous people across the Americas.

As an organization that advocates for the equity of all, we want to take this time to center and illuminate the experiences of Native Americans. Our organizational values uphold the pursuit of equity and justice, while rejecting systems of oppression. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples’ efforts to seek liberation. Our allyship involves educating ourselves and others, so that we can support Indigenous people and advocate alongside them. 

From the colonization of the Americas to today, Indigenous people have faced and continue to experience oppression, disenfranchisement, discrimination, and violence at the hands of governments and institutions steeped in a legacy of racism and colonialism. Native American people have been silenced and encountered institutional barriers with far-reaching impacts. The historical, generational trauma can only begin to heal if the harm and abuses are understood, addressed, and dispelled by all.   

Native American women and girls are disproportionally exposed to violence.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Indigenous girls aged 10-14, while murder is the third leading cause of death for Native American women. Native women in the U.S. are 2.5 more likely to be assaulted than any other group, and yet missing and murdered Indigenous women are simultaneously denied justice. Only 2% of the 5,712 reports of missing Indigenous women are logged as cases in the U.S. Department of Justice’s federal missing person database. Crimes against Native American women are overlooked due to colonial legacies which paint Indigenous women as deserving of sexual violence. Because the prosecution and investigation of crimes in the United States heavily depends on advocacy, the negative stereotypes that Native American women are subjected to hinder their ability to gain justice, as non-tribal law enforcement simply dismisses their cases. 

In addition to crimes against Native Americans being overlooked by the federal justice system, the prosecution of these crimes is obstructed by treaty laws. Tribal jurisdiction does not extend past reservations and is also limited to tribal members, meaning non-tribal members can commit crimes on reservations without prosecution. Unfortunately, non-tribal members commit the majority of crimes, particularly against women, on tribal land.  

As an organization dedicated to ending gender-based violence, Tahirih seeks to dismantle systems of oppression that facilitate discrimination, injustice, and violence against Indigenous people. We recognize that gender-based violence particularly impacts Indigenous migrant women and two-spirit people, who live at the dangerous intersections of sexism, racism, and xenophobia. We support the work from organizations who are leading the charge in this fight for equity and justice.