*Trigger Warning: Sexual Harassment
How do we add Native voices to the #MeToo movement?
With regard to Natives and tribes, I am adding a voice and sharing a shortened version of my film "The Silence Within: Crevices at Tribes." Several months ago, in August, I wrote a poem and then made a short film. I did not foresee the magnitude of this topic on social media and news. Since October, sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement are daily headlines.
Earlier this week, TIME announced the 2017 person of the year as "The Silence Breakers." On the cover of the magazine is an arm, cut off at the shoulder. TIME writer, Melissa Chan said, ..."Her [annonymous] appearance is an act of solidarity, representing all those who are not yet able to come forward and reveal their identities."
Likewise, the main image from my film is a Native woman visible but still hidden. A Native Silence Breaker.
The Silence Within
Whether you or another chooses to speak publicly, is not for me to decide. Natives often face internal struggles from the silence within that hides in crevices at tribes. Sometimes, tribes can readily talk about the environment, but when it comes to protecting women in the workplace, there is often silence. I made a film to serve as a call to action. Let's use our voice to inspire and heal.
I was honored when my short film was screened at One Heart Native Art and Film Festival in September. Read more about that in my previous post.
When I move forward, I often look back. When I was 18, at the National Congress of American Indians, our elders and Yakama Nation Tribal Council stood before hundreds of tribes and sang a Warrior Song for me. They told me to never forget the strength of women of our tribe, as women fought in the Yakama War. There is a parallel of past Native women lacking visibility along with present Native women.
I look back and draw strength from these memories. In this path, we need to remember words of support. We each have many layers, which are built, torn and grown from experiences and relationships.
At the National-level
While there are more examples, here are some articles:
- The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) will receive future royalties from the film “Wind River.” This is a nonprofit that addresses Domestic Violence and Safety for Indian Women.
- In this 2016 article, Amber Crotty, from the Navajo Nation Council speaks Against Rape Culture in the Tribal Workplace.
- Native Appropriations, by Dr. Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation), wrote The Native Harvey Weinsteins.
- Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, said,"We need to talk about Native Americans, who have the highest rate of sexual violence in this country." (The Nation).
This is an echo of questions from strong women I referenced above helping lead this movement. Sometimes, this will be an internal question, sometimes it will be asked in the living room of friends. One day soon, it will be across many tribes.
How do we add Native American voices to this #MeToo awareness movement?
The Silence Within (Abridged)
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*Comment Policy: Please be respectful. Hyperfocus on Native-on-Native violence is not entirely relevant as instances occur within tribal communities and workplaces that include non-Natives.