|St. Mary's Mission School on Red Lake Reservation, MN|
Invisible This project will look into why one in two Native American women will be the victims of domestic violence as well as the role historical events, and United States policy towards the indigenous populations have played in bringing about this epidemic. I will discuss U.S. government policies past and present, and how a systematic approach meant to extinguish Native American culture has led to the highest rates of depression, substance abuse, and sexual violence of any ethnic group in the United States. I will focus on the historical trauma from three major events: Forced Relocation, the Dawe’s Act and the Boarding School Era, and discuss the effects they have had on today’s indigenous populations and their implications on the prevalence of violence against women in Native communities.
On my most recent trip for the documentary project Invisible People I spent nine days on the road in Minnesota, six of those days with Andrew McMullen, Director of Photography, collecting testimonials interviews and filming.
|Tina, Executive Director of MSH explaining to me why American Indians|
refer to themselves was Invisible
I have been blessed with the opportunity to talk with some very profound and inspiring people. They have invited me into their lives and shared their personal stories with me. Although all the women I am speaking with possess an incredible strength and courageousness, I can see momentary breaks in their stoicism, and my insides turn with guilt as their emotions break to the surface in subtle ways.
I know that by doing this work I am rattling old memories, and I wonder what right do I have? I do so in the hope of telling a story that needs telling, of honoring their survival and fight and sharing with the rest of us the epidemic that indigenous women are facing all over the country. It is time for the men to join the battle and for people outside of the Native communities to "own" this country's past and the pain and suffering it has caused.
|"For anyone who has gone through childhood sexual abuse...|
you know victory and success by surviving the night" -Nikki
I am humbled by these women, and all the people working at Mending the Sacred Hoop (MSH) and American Indian Housing Organization (AICHO). They, and the other ones out there fighting to survive and to change their reality are the true warriors of their communities.
|"It's family first for a lot of Natives, that's were your sense of identity comes from, your immediate family." |
- Officer Northrup, Fond du Lac Reservation
|After a long, emotional day of revisiting her childhood home and the good and traumatic memories of her past, we exhale at Lower Red Lake, MN|
|Sarah from MSH speaks with survivors and friends at a dinner gathering|
|Patti from AICHO talks and jokes with fellow survivors and friends at a dinner gathering|
|Smokes stacks from a power plant silhouetted at sunset, Highway 2, MN|
|DP Andrew McMullen setting up a shot|
Since February 2013 I have been working to discusses domestic violence from a Native American perspective. I am blessed to have met some incredibly awesome, courageous and inspiring people that are making this possible. I am honored to have been given a window into their lives, hardships and victories. I look forward to the journey ahead...