Bellingham, WA—Advocates and allies for Native American women, including Calina Lawrence – activist and musician, will gather outside the Whatcom County Courthouse in Bellingham, Washington this Friday at 1pm to stand with Nooksack Tribal Council member Carmen Tageant in opposition to the harassment and violence perpetrated against her and countless other Native women across the Country. These advocates and allies seek to empower other women to boldly tell their stories as Carmen has and call for an end to the marginalization and abuse of Native women— including at the hands of Native men and tribal officials who know that complaints, if any, will almost certainly fall through legal and jurisdictional cracks.
Carmen is an enrolled member of the Nooksack Tribe and mother of seven. She was elected to serve her people as a member of the Nooksack Tribal Council in 2014, but a faction of that Council ostracized her for her opposition to Robert Kelly, Jr.’s disenrollment purge. Carmen has since remained opposed to the disenrollment agenda, which has subjected her to relentless online sexual harassment and physical violence perpetrated by those who seek to scare and silence her.
Last month, Carmen filed two lawsuits in Whatcom County Superior Court against the men responsible for this harassment and violence. In one, Carmen reveals that she was assaulted and battered by a Nooksack police officer when she attempted to file as a candidate in an upcoming election. In the other, Carmen seeks to hold accountable an unnamed individual that has waged a relentless cyber-harassment campaign against her. This unnamed individual has, using the pseudonym “Keith Williams,” posted intimate personal information about Carmen online through a fake Facebook profile.
These men used their positions of authority to systematically oppress, assault, humiliate, and defame Carmen. But these men cannot silence Carmen or those who stand with her.
Violence against Native women has reached epidemic proportions. Four in five Native women will be the victims of violence during their lifetimes. Carmen’s story—about abuse internal to tribal communities—is just one of many, many stories that must be told. Carmen and her allies seek to protect Native women and offer a voice to those who have been subjected to harassment and violence, especially by members and officials of their own tribes who exploit legal and jurisdictional gaps that result from tribal sovereignty. Carmen and her allies hope this rally for Native women will serve to encourage and empower other women to tell their stories.
Carmen and her allies welcome all to participate in this Friday’s demonstration in order to ensure that the centuries of systemic abuse and marginalization Native women have endured, stops now.