Thursday, April 30, 2015


We all want good things for our children, families, friends, and ourselves.  American Indian Alaska Native (AIAN) individuals share these sentiments as well.  Unfortunately, sentiment only goes so far when it comes to living a life of quality and purpose for many people.

American Indian Alaska Native (AIAN) persons are at a higher risk of victimization in the United States and Canada compared to all other races:

  • In comparison to other racial and ethnic groups, AIAN women remain the most frequent victims of physical and sexual violence in the United States and Canada.
  • American Indians experience violence at a rate of more than twice that of all races in the United States and Canada.
  • Studies indicate that AIAN youth experience bullying at rates higher than youth of other races.
  • The risk factors for trafficking of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Pacific Islanders are the same for victims of trafficking in other parts of the world.  Risk factors include poverty, poor education, inequality and the movement from rural to urban environments.  Compounding these issues in the United States are the disproportionate number of American Indian Alaska Natives (AIAN) in the foster care system and an increased number of AIAN women who are victims of violent crimes, such as domestic abuse, rape, and generational violence.
  • American Indian, Alaska Native and Pacific Islanders have a heightened risk for being victims of sex trafficking.
  • Decades of official government exploitation have created a psychological, socio-economic and legal dynamic in American Indian communities that facilitates the sexual exploitation of AIAN women and girls at the hands of private actors.  Unfortunately, current anti-trafficking efforts have been implemented in a way that overlooks this legacy and perpetuates the factors that make AIAN women vulnerable to sex trafficking.
  • Aboriginal women are disproportionately represented among prostituted women.
  • There are 225 unsolved cases of either missing or murdered Aboriginal females in Canada, a disproportionately high number among racial groups in the country. 

As alarming as these findings are, there are many AIAN programs to assist victims and train professionals working with AIAN people to create a healthy and balanced lifestyle for victims and future generations.  These programs include culturally relevant counseling and traditional healing services.

Take Action: If you want to know more, learn how you may help these causes or seek assistance, comprehensive information and research are available at the following sites:
·       Shattered Hearts Report (Minnesota) 
·       Garden of Truth Report (Minnesota)
·       National Online Resource Center on Violence AgainstWomen
·       Departmentof Justice 
·       OLWEUS BullyingPrevention 
·       Administration for Children and Families 
·       Columbia Human Rights Law Review 
·       Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceReport 
·       Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) database of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls 

In addition, you will find specific resources for AmericanIndians/Alaska Natives in Michigan.

Stacey Tadgerson is director of Native American Affairs for the Michigan Department of Human Services.  She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Northern Michigan University.