Release from Melissa Merrick in response to Congressman Kevin Cramer
March 29, 2013
The Honorable Kevin Cramer
United States House of Representatives
Dear Congressman Cramer:
This letter is in response to your phone call and statements in the Grand Forks Herald this week.
The women professionals who work with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault had high expectations for our meeting with you. We wanted to discuss the needs of our communities and how our programs that serve North Dakotans with a focus on ending violence against women could be improved with your help.
It has been three days since we met, and I am still stunned and outraged by what we experienced. I have always believed that the job of an elected official is to listen to the concerns of constituents, treat them with basic respect, and help try to solve problems. Instead, we were treated rudely and disrespectfully, like an arrogant bully who was disgusted with the people he had to interact with and who had no understanding or interest in protecting women from violence.
I read in the paper that you want to apologize for the “tone” and “style” of your comments. This is very disappointing to me and to my colleagues that fight to protect women from violence in our community. You should be sorry for your words and take responsibility for them.
You have attempted to backtrack and have gone as far as publicly questioning the accuracy of my statements in the Last Real Indians. Let me state for the record, I stand by every word of it.
You clearly have zero interest in protecting women from violence and have not read the tribal provisions of the Violence Against Women Act, particularly the part about the protections non-Indian defendants are guaranteed in tribal court. Your ignorant prejudices about tribal people are not only untrue, but fan the flames of racial divide, the exact opposite of what leaders do to make communities stronger. The disdain you expressed for our tribal leaders and your threats toward them left one woman in tears and revealed how little you care about the people you have been elected to serve, particularly female victims of violent acts.
Every day, we work to heal women and children who suffer from violence. I am proud of the work that I and my colleagues do. In your position as our Congressman, you are in a position to help tribal and non-tribal communities in North Dakota. My hope and prayer is that you will humble yourself in this leadership position rather than use your authority to divide our community.
Director, Spirit Lake Victim Assistance
Spirit Lake Nation