OCETI SAKOWIN TERRITORY, SD, March 26, 2018– Last year we got messages from one of our Oceti Sakowin camp sisters that her daughter was missing, soon after she called and said her daughter was found but needed help, she was being held captive against her will and was in dire need of rescuing.
Our hearts were breaking. We still have a hard time finding the right words to describe our outrage that another Oceti Sakowin Camp resident had done this to one of our sisters. It was unfathomable that that trust would be broken and the cultural ties to protect women would be violated in such a gross and disgusting way.
Let it be known that we the women of Oceti Sakowin are standing with our sister and daughter Laycie Williams. We believe her, we encourage her and we will continue to support her in her endeavors to seek justice and healing.
Our Indigenous women go missing, are murdered, and continued to be victimized at rates higher than any other race, in both so called United States and in so called Canada. Our women are ten times more likely to be murdered in this country than any other racial demographic. We have watched the justice system in both countries continue the victimization in the justice system and with the police forces who continue to aid and abet the victimization by not treating our cases with the same urgency or investigative justice. Oftentimes treating our women as less than human. We will not stand for this any longer.
It is time to stand with our Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and the Survivors. The time is now to start the healing and demand justice for the heinous acts committed on our women that often go unpunished or treated as less than important than our non-Native sisters. We will not be nameless statistics. We are breaking our silences and we ask you to do the same.
The trial against Derrick Fasig starts today. It has been reported that he entered a plea agreement acknowledging his guilt to the kidnapping charges and fleeing from officers at a different date. We were asked not to speak on this yet, but we do acknowledge that he will be sentenced in May and that he pled guilty to at least some of the charges.
What he is alleged to have done to our sister warrior is beyond comprehension. It violates every cultural more` in the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota societies. Women are supposed to be valued, revered, taken care of, protected. We are the life givers of our nations, and the first educators of our children. It is a man’s responsibility to protect, support, provide a safe environment for her to care for and grow our next generation. The allegations against this young man are so gross and outside those parameters that it is hard to understand how he could have gotten away with such heinous acts.
We thank the justice system for at least bringing him to court. Despite the police not treating her case with urgency or acuteness of need. For many of us we have faced like crimes without justice, without our attackers being brought before the system to be held accountable. And so many women go without justice, and some are missing and our hearts ache for the families who are experiencing such pain and no answers and no justice.
This is not who we are as Water Protectors. The Mni Wiconi movement started to protect water because it is sacred. To protect Unci Maka, our grandmother earth because she is the mother to us all. When a woman is abused, her life not treated as equal but a thing to demoralize, torture, rape and abuse then they are attacking our sacred Earth Mother. As you attack women who attack the essence of life giving.
We are also calling on the accountability of our men folk to stand in support for justice for our women who are facing such heinous acts. To say you are not getting involved because of drama or not standing strong to protect our women is outside our culture and spiritual nature. We encourage you to empower the women and your daughters in your life.
Derrick’s father is a well-known person in the movement and we have watched him launch a campaign against this young woman that is also not acceptable. We understand he is your son, but you had a responsibility to teach your son right verses wrong, and if you couldn’t for whatever reason it was your responsibility to reach out and find men who could teach him in a good way. It is never acceptable to blame the victim. It is never acceptable to re-victimize the victim by attacking her character. If you don’t understand why she did what she did we encourage you to learn more about domestic violence, the culture it encourages and your role as a man to help the healing and prevention of such situations. In fact, we encourage all men to do the same. It is only with the help of both men and women that we can stop this violence.
Men and women are like two wings of a bird. If one is broken the bird cannot fly. It is as simple as that.
Joye Braun Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe “Violence against our women is the epitome of colonized behavior. Since first contact, for 526 years, our women have been brutalized. To see our young men, take up this most inhumane of colonizer ways is heartbreaking and maddening. We are trying desperately to heal our communities and protect our people from the brutalization of Mother Earth, and all her beauty and gifts. When a man violates a woman in such heinous acts, we see the destruction and acceptance of dehumanizing behavior that is out of synch with all our traditional teachings. It is time we stand up, give voice to our stories, begin the healing and demand justice be served. We say no more. No more killing our innocent ones, no more murder and no more missing women and demand that action take place to prevent violence in the first place and true justice for our women who must carry the scars through life.“
Candi Brings Plenty, Oglala Lakota Two Spirit Nation, “I challenge each of you to take a moment to think of all the Indigenous Womxn who have empowered you, loved you, and nurtured you. Each of them have faced moments where they feared being harmed or have been harmed, but chose to stay silent because the fear of being shamed or silenced by their loved ones was more destructive and terrorizing than they could handle. Take another look at those womxn, they are fierce Warrior Queens who have survived the many layers of oppression and adversity from the moment they identify as Indigenous Womxn. We need to support our survivors, womxn, men and Two Spirits, by believing them, especially when they fought to escape their abuser. Laycie Williams, I hear you, I believe you and I support you. You are a fierce Warrior Queen, who survived to empower your daughter and the many who have been impacted by your resiliency.”
Holy Elk Lafferty, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, “Our work to end the violence against our sacred women is long overdue. We can no longer be silent, afraid, or ashamed to speak of what is hurting us most, because in doing so we are directly perpetuating the cycle. We’ve evolved into a society where the victims bear the shame and humiliation of what has been done to them, if they are fortunate enough to survive the experience. I want to live in a society where the predators are the ones who feel and carry that shame instead, until this issue no longer exists. I want a society to exist that creates and upholds standards so high that our women can feel and be safe. I believe we can create that kind of world if we can set aside our differences, hold focus on solutions and work together.”
Waniya Locke, Athabascan Dine/ Dakota, “Violence against women is deep rooted in our society. It is woven in our language, our thoughts, our everyday actions. Because we are a nation fighting genocide. We need to protect women from oppression, abuse, and ongoing trauma. It is more than holding up a sign, or a fly by night call to action, it is sustained action, sustained courageous action. Not one more sister.”
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Joye Braun at 605.515.4792 or email at Joye.ienearth.org.
Go to Justice for Laycie page here