Left to right: Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden, First Lady Sherry Baker and niece, and Principal Chief Bill John Baker place a purple pinwheel in front of the W.W. Keeler Complex Tuesday for Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Awareness Month at the Cherokee Nation. (Courtesy Cherokee Nation)

Cherokee Nation Declares April Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Awareness Month

ICTMN Staff
4/10/13

Outside the Cherokee Nation’s W.W. Keeler Complex and at local businesses in Tahlequah, purple and orange pinwheels symbolize the tribe's efforts to raise awareness of the need to put an end to sexual assault and child abuse.

The purple represents abuse victims, and the orange, the Nation's task force to support victims, explains a press release from the tribe.

Yesterday, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed a proclamation declaring April “Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Awareness Month.”

“As Chief of the Cherokee Nation, I am dedicated to protecting the rights of our people, especially the most vulnerable among us. Our women and children deserve the opportunity to live a safe and healthy life,” Chief Baker said. “When we raise public awareness and better educate our communities, we will help stem the violence, save lives and build a brighter future for the Cherokee Nation.”

Since taking office, Chief Baker’s administration has made combating domestic violence a top priority. The tribe, through the Attorney General’s office, implements a Violence Against Women Act grant through the U.S. Department of Justice to help victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking with victim advocacy, transitional housing and civil legal assistance programs. The tribe also works with batterers in an intervention program. The Nation recently established the Charles L. Head ONE FIRE Against Violence Task Force and Victim Services office, based in the downtown Tahlequah Cort Mall, to coordinate services for abuse and mental-health victims with protective orders, job placement, emergency housing and other resource referrals.

The ONE FIRE Against Violence Task Force and Victim Services office will also host an opening house on April 30 to announce its grand opening, in connection with the tribe’s efforts to combat domestic abuse. A poster contest is being held through April 18 for area Boys and Girls Club middle school students, which kicks off National Crime Victims Prevention Week. The winning posters will be on display at the ONE FIRE office, and citizens can cast a vote per day for the best. The grand prizewinner will get $100 and a catered lunch with Chief Baker.

A ONE FIRE Against Violence golf tournament will be held on May 2. The tournament will be played at Cherokee Springs Golf Course in Tahlequah, with all proceeds supporting victims of domestic violence and child abuse. For more information regarding the golf tournament, call Debra Lack at 918-453-5310 or Jon Overacker at 918-453-5334.

The Cherokee Nation is dedicated to combating the epidemics of sexual assault and child abuse, not only in our tribal communities, but also in the surrounding communities. If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault or violence, call the emergency hotline at 1-866-458-5399 or Cherokee Nation ONE FIRE officials at 918-453-5113.

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