By Rebecca Jim. Reposted from Miami News Record.
A year ago I stood on the edge of land that looked out over what was once the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, I know that was where we were, because it was listed as such on the South Dakota map in my old atlas. But years had passed since it was printed, and the land is no longer a reservation but listed as Diminished lands since so much of their lands had passed to non-Indian ownership. I had gone to join others in a gathering called Protecting the Sacred that focused on the impact the Keystone XL Pipeline could have on the land, water and communities while in construction. Domestic Violence programs from North Dakota spoke clearly about what could come to South Dakota since they were already living with the changes oil and gas exploration had caused there.
After the meeting my college classmate Faith Spotted Eagle had shown me where the horses had been murdered the week before. Murdered? Yes, they had been slashed so all five would die slowly. One made it home and the owner found it as it was dying, leaving her shocked and devastated. The crime was investigated and there was a decision today. The killer’s lawyer entered a no contest plea, the judge ruled guilty of a misdemeanor and gave him two thirty day concurrent sentences that were suspended. He did no time and was not fined for killing the Indian woman’s horses. But there will be a civil suit filed and he still may face some monetary loss. Justice comes slowly in some places in America.
This week LEAD Agency partnered with the Quapaw Tribe Domestic Violence Program to bring the Monument Quilt to Oklahoma. Survivors were able to speak and were accepted for their strength and resilience. There is no shame for those who have been raped or abused, the shame is on the abuser, the rapist. The Monument Quilt is an effort by FORCE, an organization co-founded by Rebecca Nagle a Joplin native and a Cherokee woman to change the culture of rape and abuse in society.
“Indian Girls, oh Indian Girls, oh how I love those Indian Girls” is a verse out of what is called a 49 song. That verse is what I want to put on the quilt I completed for all our Indian girls who once had been victims and have learned to be survivors with the support from friends and relatives and domestic violence programs. Not all survive their abuse, but their loved ones can, and as they survive their grief, they remember with love and wonder about justice in America and how extremely rare it sometimes can be.