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Domestic Violence & Native American Women

in response to another post

Forum: WMST-L
Date: 11/01/2000

Molly -

For information on Native American women and domestic violence, visit the website CAVNET at

I've seen you recommend this web site (CAVNET) several times before as a resource, but as a feminist, doesn't CAVNET's law-and-order approach make you sick? It is a "network of professionals" headed by a male former prosecutor. As it is obvious from its board make-up, CAVNET is a professional organization filled with prosecutors, police officers, corporate managers, lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. - and not a network of survivors and activists. I do think there is a place for professional network, but I'm afraid that the professionalization and institutionalization of the movement against domestic and sexual violence has created a huge industry of self-serving "specialists" who take away survivors' and communities' power and authority to speak for themselves.

In particular, I am very offended that you offered CAVNET as a resource for "information on Native American women and domestic violence." With all respect, what made you think that a professional organization of mostly white middle to upper class government and social service officials would be an appropriate source for information about Native American women's experience, especially when the same government and social service entities are responsible for the past and ongoing genocidal violence against the Native American peoples?

There are plenty of indigenous people who are organizing their communities against domestic violence. For starter, you could contact Incite: Women of Color Against Violence (PO Box 6861, Minneapolis, MN 55406) and ask for information referral. The latest (Winter 2000-2001) issue of ColorLines magazine ( is guest edited by Andy Smith, a Cherokee domestic violence activist with Incite, and has articles that discusses indigenous women's experiences of domestic violence in the context of the violence against their peoples and cultures.

Emi Koyama
Raging Exotics: Women of Color Caucus
Portland State University

The following example illustrates the problem with CAVNET's approach well: "the Ann Arbor (Michigan) shelter... were able to raise several million dollars and build a dream shelter, right next to the sheriff's dept. so it doesn't have to be secret." I received this message from the director of CAVNET immediately after I joined its mailing list. This "dream shelter" for white middle-class government or social service officials is extremely intimidating and threatening to everyone on the lower end of the social hierarchies, including women of color, working class women, women on welfare, queer women, sex workers, women who use drugs to cope with abuse, etc.