Campus Life

Speaker Sheds Light on Sex Crimes against American Indian Women

Pawnee Indian Kathryn Rice gave a presentation about sexual violence toward American Indian women on reservations March 11 in the College of Business 214.

The UCA Gender Studies Program invited Rice to tell her story for Women’s History Month.

Rice said it was a sensitive issue due to the “complications that arise when determining where the lines fall in terms of tribal, state and federal jurisdiction,” she said.

Rice said it is rare for American Indian women to report these crimes because of these complications.

In Rice’s presentation, she discussed the statistics of crime against American Indian women. “Indian women are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from sexual abuse than any minority group,” Rice said.

Rice said one in three Indian women will be raped in her lifetime. Eighty-eight percent of crimes in the tribal land are committed by non-Indians against women.

U.S. attorneys declined 50 percent of the Native American cases deferred to them between 2005 and 2009, of which 67 percent were sexual abuse and rape related, according to the Native American Bar Association.

The law for tribal and trust land is that if a non-Indian commits a crime in the trust land he or she cannot be prosecuted on tribal land. This is because tribal police on the land cannot arrest anyone who isn’t an Indian.

This makes it dangerous for Indian women. Rice shared an experience she had with a woman who committed a crime in a casino.

The woman used a fake check at the cash register. When Rice asked for her ID, she gave a fake ID as well. The lady then ran and knew that if she ran past the casino’s parking lot she would be on American Indian land and she would not face charges upon entering the land. However, Rice said she was an older woman and could not flee the parking lot fast enough.

Rice showed “A Poem by the 1941s,” a video that explained American Indian women’s desperate voice.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) supports protection from the violence against American Indian women.

VAWA encapsulates a lot of different provisions for violence against women, including violence against gay women and immigrant women.

Junior Corey Clawson said the topic was very influential and interesting.

“Kathryn was very touching and I am glad she got the word out so that we can all take a stand against this horrible act,” he said.

Rice also shared issues American Indians have with jurisdiction.

In rural areas, FBI posts are 3-4 hours away from the tribal land, which means assaulted women have to wait for help.

There is also a decline in federal funding because the tribal police does not have adequate training or facilities.

For Women’s History Month information, visit

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