Based on a synthesis of the empirical literature and original data analyses, this report presents an overview of the epidemiology of violence against American-Indian and Alaska-Native (AI&AN) women as well as a review of the criminal justice responses to this violence.
National rates of homicide victimization against AI&AN women are second to those of their African-American counterparts, but higher than those for White women; however, these national averages hide the extremely high rates of murder of AI&AN women in some counties composed primarily of tribal lands. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) shows that rates of rape and other sexual assault are higher for AI&AN women compared to both African-American and White women. National annual incidence rates and lifetime prevalence rates for physical assaults are also higher for AI&AN women compared to other women. As is the case with other women, AI&AN women are more likely to be assaulted by offenders known to them than strangers. The unique status of AI&AN tribes as both sovereign and dependent creates problematic jurisdictional barriers that sometimes obstruct an effective criminal justice response to AI&AN victims of violence. Other factors that impede an effective law enforcement response to crimes on many tribal lands are insufficient funding, inadequate police training, and victim’ mistrust of outside authority. This report offers several recommendations intended to provide more effective investments in combating violence against AI&AN women. These pertain to the obtaining of valid and reliable data on violence against AI&AN women, the development of prevention and intervention programs for these women, and scientifically rigorous evaluations of such programs. 17 tables, 174 references, and appended methodological details of studies conducted at the local level
Date Published: August 1, 2008