The AKNWRC resource book is the first written text written from the perspective of Alaska Natives to explain the violence against our women due to the legal vulnerabilities forced upon Alaska Indigenous Nations. The book provides an Alaska Native view of domestic violence beyond individual acts of violence. It provides the context of why individual violence occurs at the disproportionate rates committed against Alaska Native women and continues generation after generation since contact. The book provides a path forward to support and heal from the violence by understanding how the current crisis of violence grew over time due to systemic barriers and lack of protection of Native women from domestic and other forms of violence.
A story is shaped and presented by the storyteller. In this way, the story of violence against Alaska Native women remains untold because the storytellers told the view of colonization. The new AKNWRC book brings a new voice providing an Indigenous understanding of violence against Alaska Native women.
After decades of advocating for survivors, the board and staff members of the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center understand domestic violence and the sacred status of Alaska Native women to our Indigenous Nations. We link the ongoing crisis of violence to its origins within our Nations—colonization of the Indigenous peoples of Alaska. This story is generally missing in the Western literature and perspective of violence against women but is increasingly presented by Indigenous women and peoples around the world and at the United Nations.
Violence is not traditional, and women were respected in their nations. The safety and well-being of women were safeguarded by their status and today our culture continues, despite colonization, to be protective factors. The title of AKNWRC’s new book is a political statement and provides direction to our movement in making the legal and policy reforms needed. We see ending the violence against Alaska Native Women organically linked to restoring the sacred status of women held within sovereign Indigenous nations. The new AKNWRC resource book is written to support tribal leaders, advocates, and survivors in understanding the path forward to create the changes needed to end domestic and sexual violence.
“Our movement is like a seed that has grown. I know if we organize ourselves as Alaska Natives, we can end the violence in our villages.”—Joann Horn, Director, Emmonak Women’s Shelter
“Our villages can and have for centuries taken responsibility and now is the time to let us do so again. The federal and state governments need to recognize their old laws of the past need to be changed so villages can do so again.”—Dr. Michael Williams Sr., long-time Tribal Leader, and Advocate, Akiak Native Community
Development of the Book: The AKNWRC launched the book project in 2018 with the goal of telling the story of violence against women from the view of Alaska Native women, advocates, tribal leaders, and our communities. The outline and various chapters were provided as supportive resource materials during numerous AKNWRC hosted roundtable discussions, tribal court symposiums, village engagement sessions, and tribal coalition meetings. The pages carry the voices of these partners and community members. AKNWRC’s national partners—the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and Indian Law Resource Center—were involved in its development. The principal authors of the book are AKNWRC staff members Michelle Demmert, Debra O’Gara, Tami Truett Jerue, and Jacqueline Agtuca.