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Across rural North Dakota, women living on reservations face unique challenges when dealing with violence. Access to telephones, transportation, emergency services, law enforcement officers and confidential victim services all act as barriers to getting the help they desperately need. According to a 2016 National Institute of Justice Report, 56% of Native women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, and 38% were unable to receive any type of victim services. The high rates of sexual violence are closely interconnected with the likelihood of Native women going missing or being murdered, and on some reservations, they are murdered at more than ten times the national average.

Although the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 and the Tribal Law and Order Act have helped bring attention to the high rates of violence against Native women, there is still no reliable way of knowing how many Native women go missing each year. In 2016, North Dakota alone had 125 cases of missing Native women reported to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), compared to 5,712 total Native women cases reported in the United States. However, the actual number is likely much higher, as cases of missing Native women are often under-reported and the data has never been officially collected.

COMBATING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

How do I know if what I’m seeing or experiencing is domestic violence or an intimate partner argument?

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence consists of behaviors that physically or sexually harm a partner, but it can also include abuse that does not leave physical marks. This includes coercion and threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, economic abuse, isolation, placing blame, and threatening of children. 

IDENTIFYING WHEN A WOMAN GOES MISSING

How do I know if a loved one has voluntarily cut ties with the community, or has gone missing by force?

Identifying when a woman you know has gone missing due to force can be difficult. An adult woman (18+ years) has the legal right to voluntarily go missing because she has intentionally decided to cut ties to her family and friends, or to avoid an abuser. The first step in identifying when a woman goes missing due to force is by contacting family and friends who may have had recent contact with the suspected victim. This helps to establish her state of mind, and once it is established that there is suspected foul play, take action by contacting law enforcement and local tribal advocacy programs. 

TAKING ACTION

What do I do if I know someone who has gone missing by force? 

When contacting law enforcement, it is crucial to provide as much detail as possible. The quicker you respond the quicker law enforcement may be able to locate your loved one. Depending on the location of the suspected disappearance, and the potential perpetrator, multiple agencies will need to be contacted.

Law enforcement agencies to contact (contact information below):

  • Tribal Law Enforcement,
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA),
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),
  • Local County Sheriff’s Department - click here for information per county, including the counties' sheriff department contact information.
  • North Dakota Highway Patrol - click here for North Dakota highway patrol contact information.

Get the local community involved and ask them to: 

  • Hang up posters
  • Post on social media platforms
  • Organize a search group                                                                                                                                                           Back to top

 CONTACTING LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES

How do I know which law enforcement agency to contact when I believe a Native woman I know has gone missing? 

Jurisdictional issues make identifying which law enforcement agencies to contact a daunting task. If the woman you know lives on a reservation, you should contact tribal law enforcement immediately and let them know of your concerns. Next, contact your local BIA officers to also inform them that you believe your loved one has gone missing. If the woman you know lives off of the reservation, you should contact the local sheriff’s department where you believe she was last seen and file a missing person’s report. You can also contact the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), which is operated by the U.S. Department of Justice, and create a missing persons profile.

Local BIA Contact Information

Spirit Lake – Fort Totten: (701) 766 – 4545

Standing Rock – Fort Yates: (701) 854 – 3433

Turtle Mountain – Belcourt: (701) 477 – 3191

Three Affiliated Tribes – New Town: (701) 627 – 4707

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate – Agency Village, SD: (605) 698 – 3001

Tribal Law Enforcement Contact Information

Spirit Lake – Fort Totten: (701) 766 – 4231

Standing Rock – Fort Yates: (701) 854 – 7241

Turtle Mountain – Belcourt: (701) 477 – 6134

Three Affiliated Tribes – New Town: (701) 627 – 3617

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate – Sisseton, SD: (605) 698 – 7661

Local FBI Contact Information

Fargo: (701) 232 – 7241

Bismarck: (701) 233 – 4875

Grand Forks: (701) 772 – 0813

Minot: (701) 852 – 5071                                                                                                                             Back to top

 HELPING NATIVE WOMEN WHO ARE SUFFERING FROM VIOLENCE

If you or someone you know is a victim of violence, please contact your local crisis centers for assistance. Below is a list of centers across North Dakota that will do their best to provide culturally appropriate and confidential services.

Nationwide and Statewide

StrongHearts Native Helpline: (844) 762 – 8483
Offers legal assistance, referrals, and advocacy. 

National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC): (406) 477 – 3896
Provides educational and preventative resources and can help promote community awareness. 

North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services (NDCAWS): (888) 255 – 6240
Provides educational and preventative resources, can help promote community awareness, and give referrals. 

Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains: (605) 200 – 2699
Provides educational and preventative resources.

First Nations Women’s Alliance: (701) 662 – 3380
Offers referral services and advocacy. 

Turtle Mountain

Turtle Mountain Victims of Crime: (701) 477 – 5688
Provides group support and shelter assistance and advocacy.

Hearts of Hope: (701) 477 – 0002
Offers group support, emergency shelter, and advocacy.

Spirit Lake

Spirit Lake Victims Assistance – Fort Totten, ND: (701) 766 – 1816
Provides referrals, group support, legal assistance, and advocacy.

Bismarck

United Tribes Technical College Safety & Security Department: (701) 221 – 0170
Offers educational awareness, crisis intervention, and advocacy

Three Affiliated Tribes

Three Affiliated Tribes Victim Services: (701) 627 – 4171
Offers emergency shelter, transportation, legal assistance, education, referrals, and advocacy.

Trenton Indian Service Area

Shell of Hope Domestic Violence Program – Trenton, ND: (701) 572 – 1806
Offers transportation, legal assistance, education, referrals, and advocacy.

Standing Rock Sioux

Standing Rock Abused Adult Resource Center – Fort Yates, ND: (701) 854 –7643
Offers emergency shelter, transportation, education, referrals, and advocacy.

Pretty Bird Woman House – McLaughlin, SD: (605) 823 – 7233
Provides referrals, group support, prevention education, and advocacy.

Standing Rock Tribal Court, OVW Women’s Shelter – Fort Yates, ND: (701) 854 – 4514
Offers crisis intervention services.

Lake Traverse

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate’s Crime Tip Hotline: (605) 742 – 0088
Provides emergency services.

Three Rivers Crisis Center – Wahpeton, ND:  (701) 642 – 2115
Provides emergency shelter, group support, and advocacy.

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