Jan 25, 2013 - Violence Against Women and Violence Against Earth by Matt Remle
On January 3rd, the 112th Congress adjourned ended, failing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The VAWA, which was first passed in 1994, had been reauthorized in 2000 and 2005 with little opposition. Republican opposition to the 2012 reauthorization of the VAWA, centered on the inclusion of additional protections for LGBT, immigrants and Native women. The Tribal Provision would have allowed for tribal courts to have limited jurisdiction over non-tribal members who committed certain offenses on tribal lands.
Given the high percentage of non-Indians committing acts of sexual assault and domestic violence against Native women on tribal lands, the VAWA would be a welcome piece of legislation. Recently, Sens. Leahy (D-VT) and Crapo (R-ID) have introduced legislation to reauthorize the VAWA and many of our tribal leaders are already lobbying and working with members of the 113th Congress in seeking its passage.
While I will stand with, and work alongside, our tribal leaders for the reauthorization of the VAWA, I would like to push our communities to go beyond seeking just the legal remedies from the colonial lawmakers to ending violence against women. Legal tools are needed in addressing violence against women, but in of themselves will do little to reverse the deeply imbedded colonial belief in the inferiority of women.
We must raise our next generations of wakanija (sacred beings) to look upon their Grandmothers, Mothers, sisters, aunties, cousins, daughters and granddaughters as the beautiful, strong, creative, nurturing, leaders, and backbone strength of our Nations that they are.
Sexual violence, and rape, has been one of the colonizers tools in his quest to conquer indigenous lands and subdue its peoples throughout the globe. History has shown this pattern to repeat itself. Columbus brought this diseased thinking and tactic to our homelands with wide spread sexual violence inflicted upon the Arawak Nation.
This soon spread throughout the rest of Turtle Island as the colonizer sought to manifest his destiny. Sexual violence continued to plague our communities as generations were sent to boarding schools. The legacy of sexual violence against Native women persists to this day as documented in the 2007 Amnesty International report Maze of Injustice, which found that a staggering 80% of acts of sexual violence committed against Native women were perpetrated by non-Native men.
In our efforts to address violence against women, we must also address and recognize that the core driver in the belief in women’s inferiority stems from the initial rejection and objectification of our first Mother, Maka Ina. This mindset sees her as not being the bearer of all life, but rather as an object that only exists to be violated by man for material consumption. Violence against women will not cease until violence against Maka Ina also ceases to be.
In our creation story, Inyan began creation by draining its blood to create Maka. After bringing forth other creations and Nations, Inyan created the Human Nation last. Woman was created first. Woman was created to replicate Maka, the giver of life and nourishment. Man was created second. Man was created to replicate the Universe, to provide and protect. The Universe and Maka combine powers to create life. We are all wakanija of Maka.
Centuries of colonization have attempted to extract from the minds and hearts of the children of Maka Ina our understanding and knowledge of her as our first Mother. It is in this vein that we must begin to engage in the ending of violence against women in the decolonization, and purification, of our hearts and minds to reengage and relive with Maka Ina and all her wakanija.
Lets us again remember the sacredness of our women, made after Maka, who through them hold all the generations yet to come. This sacredness needs to be re-taught to our young men and women alike. Let us engage from within our tiospaye (extended families), Oyate (Nations), and across all Turtle Island in seeking the eradication all forms of violence from our homes, communities and homelands.
While we remember the sacredness of our women, we too must remember the sacredness of Maka Ina. She too must be protected from violence. Tar sands, the XL pipeline, fracking, war, mining, coal exports, mass pollution and over consumption all violate our collective Mother. These acts of violence must be addressed with the same manner of uncompromising vigor as too stopping violence against women.
Think for a moment how incredible, loving and nurturing Maka Ina truly is. That despite the abuses inflicted upon her, she continues to give of herself unselfishly for us to live. It is time for the collective Human Nation to live again as a part of creation. Our future generations depend upon it and our first Mother deserves it.
by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)