SHERO SARAH DEER - Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Who she is:
A Native American lawyer, professor of law at William Mitchell College, and 2014 MacArthur fellow.
An advocate for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors in Native American communities.
She played an "instrumental role" in the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
In 2007, along with Bonnie Claremont, Deer co-authored the 2007 Amnesty International report Maze of Injustice, which documented sexual assault against Native American women.
What she knew:
If you are born female on an Native American reservation there’s a 1 in 3+ chance that you’ll be physically and sexually abused over the course of your lifetime.
The murder rate for Native American women is 10 times the national average.
If you are born female on a reservation 3 out of 5 of your friends will experience domestic violence.
In the past when a Native American woman was assaulted or raped by a “non-native”, there was nothing, legally, she could do about it, even though reservations are sovereign nations and have their own police and courts to prosecute crimes committed on tribal land.
In the 1978 Supreme Court case “Oliphant”, the justices ruled that tribal law had no legal jurisdiction to prosecute non-natives for crimes committed within the boundaries of a reservation.
More than 75% of people living on reservations aren’t Native American.
Up until March 2015 reservation police had no legal authority to arrest or prosecute non-Native American men who commit acts of domestic violence against native women living on reservations.
What she did about it:
In 2014 Sarah Deer was named a MacArthur Fellow for her tireless work in passing the congressional "Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women's Act", which does include domestic violence committed by non-native partners, but doesn't yet expand to include assault or rape committed by non-native "strangers".
Sarah's working on changing that right now...
Article by Anna Quick-Palmer