“With Better Data and Increased Awareness…”

On International Women’s Day 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Establishment of the White House Gender Policy Council.  Couple this with the Executive Order for Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, and I am optimistic that we may see a change in the way data are collected and reported.

I shared that optimism with Minnesota State Senator Mary Kunesh and Nicole Matthews, Executive Director, Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition.  Mary and Nicole reminded me that as we move towards a more inclusive society, Native American women are invisible.  They echoed what Nicole MartinRogers said during our conversation: many people think of Native Americans as people of the past.

Mary told me that for every white child removed from their home, 17 Native American children are removed by a child protective agency.  She encouraged me to listen to the Canadian podcast, “Finding Cleo,” to hear the story of one such daughter, who was later found raped and murdered.  Nicole Matthews added that services for women who are victims of sexual trafficking and prostitution center on whiteness, ignoring the cultural needs of the Native American women who need these services.

In 2014, Sarah Deer won a MacArthur Fellowship for her work advocating for legislation and policies to protect Native American women from domestic violence and sexual abuse.
My conversation with Senator Mary Kunesh and Nicole Matthews affirmed the need for WISER and expanded the list of narratives, data collection, and reporting processes WISER needs to challenge.

Be well,