Tribes receive funds to address domestic violence

Staff reports
11/30/09

FORT HALL, Idaho – The U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women Office recently announced an award of $500,000 to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to establish a shelter and to provide support for victims of domestic violence on the Fort Hall Reservation.

The tribes were notified of the award Sept. 28 in a letter from Catherine Pierce, acting OVW director. “This award provides the opportunity for recipients to develop and strengthen effective responses to violence against women.”

Based on the tribes’ grant request, the funds will be used to furnish, stock, maintain and staff a women’s shelter; to provide transitional assistance to victims of domestic violence; and to contract for a judge that specializes in domestic violence cases to be available as needed in Tribal Court.

 
Walk a Mile In Her Shoes participants enjoyed a healthy snack before the fundraiser walk began Oct. 23.

The tribes’ Victims of Crime Assistance Coordinator Audrey Jim said a facility has already been identified for the shelter and she hopes to have it open before the end of the year.

She believes many domestic violence cases on the reservation go unreported due to the victims’ fears of retaliation by the perpetrator and the social stigma of domestic violence, especially in a small community.

“By bringing in an outside judge specifically to hear domestic violence cases, and by establishing a shelter right here, we hope to send the message to victims that the tribes are serious about addressing domestic violence,” Jim said.

The tribes will continue to refer victims to area shelters in those situations where the perpetrator is deemed to pose a continued threat to the victim if the person stays on the reservation, she said.

Between January and July, the Fort Hall Police Department reported eight sexual assaults and 86 domestic violence and dating assaults. Part of the grant funds will be used to provide better tracking and reporting of domestic violence cases on the reservation, said Jim.

The tribes had originally applied for Recovery Act funds for its domestic violence program. Because those funds were exhausted early on, the tribes were encouraged to apply for and received funding under the ongoing OVW Grants to Indian Tribal Governments Program.

Fort Hall Business Councilman Nathan Small attended the DoJ’s annual Tribal Consultation on Violence Against Indian Women in St. Paul, Minn. At the consultation, tribal leaders shared their recommendations on strengthening the federal response to crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in Native communities, among other issues.

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