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Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women: Secondary Data Analysis

Date Published
February 19, 2013

Secondary data analysis — reanalyzing existing data in new ways — is an important component of NIJ's research program on violence against American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) women. Because the data have already been collected, secondary data analysis often requires fewer resources (e.g., time and money) than does primary data collection. Secondary analysis provides an opportunity to expand our understanding of the nature, consequences and responses to violence against AI and AN women by using existing data sources.

Researchers are using a variety of health systems data and federal, state, local and tribal crime sources to examine:

  • The nature of calls for service.
  • Arrests and charges.
  • Protection order issuance and enforcement.
  • Prosecution and sentencing practices.
  • Case outcomes.
  • Homicide rates.

NIJ's secondary data analysis projects undertaken are:

  1. The Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) Legal Information Office Network System (LIONS): 2008 Indian Country Case Management System Review
  2. FBI case file review of crimes against women that occurred in Indian Country
  3. Examination of Native American homicides
  4. Identification of data sources containing information on victimization of AI and AN women

1. The Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) Legal Information Office Network System (LIONS): 2008 Indian Country Case Management System Review

This study was meant to thoughtfully examine the Justice Department's Indian Country practice as it pertains to the U.S. Attorneys' activities in Indian Country. NIJ partnered with EOUSA to examine LIONS data to try to provide a snapshot of Indian Country cases handled by U.S. Attorneys during the 2008 fiscal year.

NIJ staff reviewed all reporting tools and systems that U.S. Attorneys use to manage cases and report annual statistics. Other activities involved reviewing and documenting established internal control procedures and systems for gathering, verifying and reporting statistics; and reviewing case file documentation from official documents, such as annual statistical reports.

Before this effort, there had never been a systematic, detailed description of the U.S. Attorneys' activities in Indian Country, primarily because federal data systems were never designed to collect information about Indian Country specifically. Although EOUSA includes cases from Indian Country in its Annual Statistical Report,[1] much of the detail and context of Indian Country cases is lost when presented in aggregate-level reports.

NIJ's review was intended to address this lack of information by providing a snapshot of Indian Country cases handled by U.S. Attorneys. However, this review identified a number of serious limitations in using these data as a measure either of crime or of prosecution efforts in Indian Country. It was determined that proper analysis of case processing in Indian Country required a thorough review of individual case information that could only be obtained by reviewing individual hardcopy case files and consulting with U.S. Attorney's Office staff. Given the limitations of the data and the prohibitive government investment that would be required to conduct hard copy case file reviews, this project was suspended.

2. FBI Case File Review of Crimes Against Women That Occurred in Indian Country

NIJ and the FBI's Indian Country Crimes Unit partnered to study the FBI's response to violence against Native American women in Indian Country. NIJ and the FBI are interested in obtaining baseline statistics about the:

  • Number of cases opened, pending and closed in 2008 in Indian Country.
  • Percentage and nature of those cases that involve a form of violence against adult Native American women.
  • Response and strategies used by the FBI to investigate these cases.

This project examines all death investigations, domestic violence, sexual assault and assault case files where the victim was a Native American woman. The information collected for this project gives details about geographic dispersion of cases and more information about the numbers of cases associated with constructs such as domestic violence or homicide. A research brief is forthcoming in the spring of 2013.

3. Examination of Native American Homicides

This project will examine the nature and incidence of Native American homicides. The analyses will be based on data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service, the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and state authorities. The project will examine the differences between the various data sources and compare the estimates obtained from these analyses with existing estimates. Researchers will discuss the impact that these differences have on policy and research.

4. Identification of Data Sources Containing Information on Victimization of American Indian and Alaska Native Women

This project involved the identification of data sources and data systems that pertain to the victimization of American Indian and Alaska Native women, both on and off tribal lands. The data sources and data systems of interest include those that will provide statistics on:

  • The number and types of calls for service.
  • The number and types of cases opened.
  • The number and types of arrests and charges executed.
  • Preliminary protective orders and permanent protective orders issued and enforced.
  • Description of cases and outcomes.
  • The number of and characteristics of homicide cases.


Date Published: February 19, 2013