How this survivor is fighting sexual assault in Navajo Nation

How this survivor is fighting sexual assault in Navajo Nation


JUDY WOODRUFF: Sexual assaults and abuse towards
women have been given greater attention in this MeToo moment. This week’s Brief But Spectacular looks at
a population often overlooked in the national conversation, the Native American community. Amber Kanazbah Crotty is encouraging support
of survivors, as one of the few female delegates on the Navajo Council, and is leading a nationwide
campaign Start By Believing. AMBER KANAZBAH CROTTY, Navajo Nation Council
Delegate: We have more rapes on Navajo Nation than cities like Detroit or San Diego. How is that possible? That’s possible because we have a systemic
failure in how we report crimes, how people feel protected, how sexual violence has been
normalized, and how sexual violence was used in the past to displace us from the land. We’re here still on the ground just trying
to get basic services, like police officers, broadband service. If we could get 911 on Navajo Nation, we would
be doing something spectacular. We’re literally in the dark when it comes
to telecommunication, when it comes to emergency response. We have one shelter here, and it can only
house eight people. I sit on the Navajo Nation Council here in
Window Rock, Arizona. My family originates from the Sheep Springs
area along the Chuska Mountain, where we have been for many generations. So my family’s story and the story of myself
is like so many Navajos, a story of being forced away from land, a story of forced removal
of our grandparents into the school system. That means dealing with intergenerational
trauma, knowing that my grandmas who returned from the Long Walk, the pain and sorrow of
losing their home, their relatives, their animals, and then coming back and rebuilding
and using our land, using our prayers, using our ceremonies to continue that strength. They put literal prayers in the ground for
us, for me, for my children, to know that we would come back home, to know that I would
be standing here one day in the leadership position, helping my people. As a Navajo woman, I can talk about topics
that our Navajo men, our leaders have not felt comfortable talking about, allowing me
to tell my story on the floor of not only my experience being groped by an elected official
while I was a political staffer, but to tell the story of what’s going on in our communities. That’s a story of families that are steeped
in violence, using alcohol and drugs to numb their pain. It’s boys who were molested and traumatized
who are now men who are in silence because they’re vulnerable. Individuals at every single level have been
touched by this. Family members, community members, professionals
have told me that they have been either a victim of violence, sexually assaulted, a
survivor. The crisis of violence against Navajo women,
we’re just at the tip of the iceberg. We have to change that — that norm that me
hearing young girls saying, not if it’s going to happen, when we do our prevention work,
but what do I do when it happens? My name is Amber Kanazbah Crotty, and this
is my Brief But Spectacular take on revitalizing Navajo communities. JUDY WOODRUFF: So hard to hear, but so important
to share. Thank you.

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