Classes focus on violence against Indian women

American Indian women are twice as likely to be victims of domestic violence than other women in the United States.

One in three Indian women are raped, compared to one in five women generally.

These statistics, from the National Congress of American Indians, reveal a nationwide problem for women in Indian Country, said Roxanne Chinook, who was hired in May 2007 by the Tulalip Tribes to educate tribal members about violence against women

The problem isn’t isolated to the nation’s poorest reservations, she said. The issues are at Tulalip, too, she said.

Beginning this month, Chinook will offer a class through the Tulalip campus of Northwest Indian College titled “Violence Against Native Women is Not Traditional.” The course is free to tribal members and tribal employees, and will count as continuing education credit.

Chinook, a Warm Springs tribal member, will use material from Sacred Circle, an American Indian organization that advocates for women who have been victims of violence. She will also use her own story of surviving rape as part of the curriculum.

Chinook has done presentations for Tulalip tribal members several times in recent months — an experience she said has opened up deep wounds for those in attendance.

“It really brings up a lot of memories,” she said. “It goes into the history of the tribe, and talks about government boarding schools, and the way they were treated there, and how that violence worked its way into the community.”

Amnesty International last year reported that American Indian women face more barriers than women of other races in finding justice when they’re violated.

Chinook believes that awareness through her class and other means will help reverse that tide.

Reporter Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422 or

Violence classes

“Violence Against Native Women is Not Traditional” will be held from 12:10 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. each Thursday beginning Jan. 3 (except Jan. 24) at the Tulalip Campus of Northwest Indian College at 7707 36th Ave. NW in Tulalip. To sign up, call 360-651-3570.

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