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Justice for Victims. Justice for All.
Office for Victims of Crime
2013 OVC Report to the Nation: Fiscal Years 2011-2012 'Transforming Today's Vision into Tomorrow's Reality'
Report to the Nation Home  |  Message From the Director  |  Exhibits

Tribal Communities

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Poverty, isolation, high crime rates, and a chronic lack of services in many American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities—compounded by complex jurisdictional issues and cultural diversity between tribes—make this underserved population a high priority for enhancing the response to victims of crime, especially those who suffer violence and abuse within families. With the launch of a major DOJ initiative to increase engagement in, coordination of, and action on tribal justice issues in Indian Country, OVC has increased its focus on the development of exemplary evidence-based projects and practices that reflect a respect for tribal culture. As OVC forges innovative partnerships to strengthen the victim services field's response to tribal victims, it maintains its support of established grant programs10 that focus on training and technical assistance, enhanced management of child abuse cases, and other much-needed services throughout Indian Country. Altogether, in FYs 2011 and 2012, OVC provided $16.8 million in federal funding to aid tribes and tribal-affiliated organizations in Indian Country.


Indian Nations Conferences Honor Tradition While Building Capacity

In 2010 and 2012, OVC funded two Indian Nations Conferences, both coordinated by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute and held at the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation in southern California. This biennial event is the largest DOJ-sponsored tribal conference, attracting a wide array of service practitioners and others who work with AI/AN victims of crime. At the 12th national conference in December 2010, Attorney General Holder reaffirmed the Department's commitment to healthy, safe tribal communities. The 13th national conference, held in December 2012, attracted more than 1,000 practitioners who attended some 60 workshops on strategies for promoting safety, justice, and healing through effective collaboration among public and private agencies.

OVC Leads Initiative To Build Sexual Assault Service Capacity in Indian Country

The AI/AN SANE–SART Initiative addresses the comprehensive needs of tribal victims of sexual violence, a crime that research has shown to be epidemic in many AI/AN communities. From the outset of the project in 2010, OVC and its federal and tribal partners have focused on the challenge of building the capacity of tribal communities to provide coordinated, community-based, victim-centered responses to sexual violence. The 5-year project currently encompasses three demonstration sites, coordinators at the Indian Health Service and the FBI, training and technical assistance, and support from a federal advisory committee and multidisciplinary working groups—all committed to overcoming long-standing barriers to serving these victims. The ultimate goal of the AI/AN SANE–SART Initiative is to institutionalize sustainable, culturally relevant, evidence-based practices that meet the needs of tribal communities—helping to fulfill what Attorney General Holder has declared "a legal duty and a moral obligation" 11 to address violent crime in tribal communities.

OVC Releases New Tool To Help Prosecute Tribal Domestic Violence

As part of DOJ's major initiative to improve tribal justice and public safety throughout Indian Country, OVC supported the Executive Office of United States Attorneys in the production of Using Federal Law To Prosecute Domestic Violence in Indian Country, a DVD and facilitator's guide intended for federal, state, and tribal prosecutors and related personnel. The training package highlights the cases of four victims of severe abuse and how justice was served through successful federal prosecutions. The cases represent common circumstances surrounding these types of prosecutions, such as habitual offenders, recanting victims, and working within close-knit communities to ensure the safety of victims.

Of Special Interest

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  • OVC is providing $1.5 million to support a demonstration project at the Flandreau Indian School in South Dakota, with the goal of establishing a culturally appropriate, trauma-informed system of care for students with long-term exposure to violence, trauma, and victimization. Flandreau and OVC are collaborating over the next 4 years to provide the students with essential support and tools for learning healthy coping mechanisms, building resiliency, and, ultimately, reaching their full potential in life. A staff member emphasized that students developing a sense of pride in their cultural identity is critical: "Our students are hurting. When we connect them to their culture, they're able to begin to heal."
  • Kids and football made a winning combination when the Crime Victims Program (CVP) of the Menominee, Wisconsin, Tribal Police and the 2011 World Champion Green Bay Packers teamed up to promote safe Internet practices and related information to youth. CVP (a Tribal Victim Assistance Program grantee), the Packers, and a local printer produced 500 sets of player cards, each including a Packer player's photo, a safety tip, and CVP contact information. Handing out the cards helped open new avenues of communication between tribal youth and CVP, staff  believe, as they provided more victim services in 2012 than in any year since 2008.
  • Building awareness of victims' needs and the services available for meeting those needs is critical to improving safety and justice for tribal victims, which is why OVC supports public outreach in AI/AN communities. For example, the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault honored the wisdom of Alaska Native elders in its "Love, Heal, Protect" campaign, which included "Our Elders Say…" multimedia materials. Victim Witness Services of Coconino County, Arizona, developed the child maltreatment awareness campaign "Our Heritage, Our Future," which included colorful posters celebrating traditional tribal values. These are just two of the numerous grassroots public awareness programs that OVC supported during FYs 2011 and 2012.

10 For detailed information about the Children's Justice Act Partnership for Indian Communities Program, the Comprehensive Tribal Victim Assistance Program, and the American Indian/Alaska Native Training and Technical Assistance Program, see Grants & Funding on OVC's Web site. For further information about OVC's tribal initiatives, see OVC Builds Capacity To Serve Crime Victims in Indian Country.

11 Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., "Oversight of the Department of Justice" Congressional Testimony, November 20, 2009, http://www.mainjustice.com/2009/11/20/holder-doj-wants-lasting-change-in-indian-country/ (accessed May 31, 2012).