Archive for the 'POW WOW' Category

Native American Women Grossly Violated

© Blogian 2007 – Pow Wow Native American Festival in Denver

In July 2006 an Alaska Native woman in Fairbanks reported to the police that she had been raped by a non-Native man. She gave a description of the alleged perpetrator and city police officers told her that they were going to look for him. She waited for the police to return and when they failed to do so, she went to the emergency room for treatment. A support worker told Amnesty International that the woman had bruises all over her body and was so traumatized that she was talking very quickly. She said that, although the woman was not drunk, the Sexual Assault Response Team nevertheless “treated her like a drunk Native woman first and a rape victim second”. The support worker described how the woman was given some painkillers and some money to go to a non-Native shelter, which turned her away because they also assumed that she was drunk: “This is why Native women don’t report. It’s creating a breeding ground for sexual predators.”

The paragraph above is from a study by Amnesty International, released on April 24, 2007, that has concluded, “One in three Native American or Alaska Native women will be raped at some point in their lives. Most do not seek justice because they know they will be met with inaction or indifference.”

© Blogian 2007 – Pow Wow Native American Festival in Denver

According to the report, Native American women are about 3 times more likely to be raped in America than other women.  Moreover,

According to the US Department of Justice, in at least 86 per cent of reported cases of rape or sexual assault against American Indian and Alaska Native women, survivors report that the perpetrators are non-Native men. (This is in the case when most rapes in America are perpetrated by the same racial group – Blogian.)

The violation against Native American women is shocking and reminds of all the trouble and suffering that these people have been going through for hundreds of years.  Reading Lakota Woman earlier this year – a book by Mary Crow Dog about her experience as a Native American woman – I could not believe that even in the 1970s there was cultural genocide going on against the Natives.   But it turns out it is going on today, in 2007.

© Blogian 2007 – Pow Wow Native American Festival in Denver

I think the rape of Native American women is continuation of the cultural genocide.  But whatever you name it, it is happening and needs immediate reaction, especially given the Amnesty International charge that the US government is to blame for not protecting these women and children.

Interestingly, I brought similar topic up with my Native American studies professor Glenn Morris two weeks ago when I asked him what was the situation with human trafficking among Native American reservations (having found out about domestic human trafficking in the US, I had figured out that most vulnerable of US communities – the “Indian” reservations – would be a source for violating women and children).  Prof. Morris didn’t know whether there was human trafficking, but he said there were lots of rape.

The full study is available at

Celebrating Survival: The Real America

Last Friday, March 23, 2007, when I was very sick after having returned from snowy Montreal, I decided to go to POW WOW in Denver with my Mom.

POW WOW is a Native American festival where hundreds of nations across America gather to dance, sing and get to know each other.

First time in my life I saw real America – the real beauty of America with her tortured children who were celebrating survival, their survival.

Glenn Morris, indigenous politics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, told our class this past Thursday that when he was taken to a Native American reservation in Costa Rica in 1986, he felt embarrassed that he had been told in all his academic life (plus a law degree from Harvard) that there were no Native Americans in Costa Rica. His new friends in Costa Rica started to laugh when Prof. Morris made his confession. The Native Costa Ricans told him not to worry – they, too, thought there were no Indians left in America.

And perhaps most people in the world have no idea about festivals like POW WOW. Neither do most people who live in Colorado. Most of the audience were Native Americans themselves, who had traveled to see their brothers and sisters dance and sing. Where was white America? I guess in AMCs or other movie theaters to watch “300” in order to reaffirm their hatred for the Iranians, or the savage Persians.

But in POW WOW, I did not care about white America. I was in real America; I was with the real landlords of my apartment who were there to show me the beauty of survival; who were there to tell me that no matter what and no matter when, genocide survival is inevitable and will be celebrated one day.

My romanticized amazement for Native America was shared by the person I had went with – my Mom.  She wanted to be photographed with every Native American she saw. For me it meant taking photographs every minute of my presence in POW WOW at the Denver Coliseum.

Surprisingly, she now wants me to post her photographs at Blogian. And since it is April 1 today, why not?

Well, I can’t post the rest of the 270 photographs; the internet is too slow…

But I have to post this one! This photo is from yesterday. My Mom had mask on her face and she reminded me of POW WOW. So I asked her where the Navajo souvenir arrow we bought at the festival was. When she brought it, I took this photo.