Dec 28, 2022

American Indian/Alaska Native People Profile #7: Violet

Violet is 18-years old and has just moved into a student housing apartment in a large metropolitan area. She is deeply connected to her home reservation in Arizona and is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation.

Violet has just graduated with honors from high school. Being an honors student, she was admitted early to a pre-med program on a full scholarship from the Indian Health Service as her mother could not financially support her or contribute to the university’s tuition.

Violet had repeatedly witnessed her father’s violence against her mother during her life. Her father passed away due to pancreatic cancer. As Violet has left the reservation and is living on her own, she has begun to experience panic attacks due to memories of violence she witnessed. She started to see a counselor with her mother’s encouragement to help learn how to manage the panic attacks and anxiety.

In her recovery journey, Violet has learned that violence against Native American women is at epidemic proportions, and it is important for her to continue to reach out for help and seekmental health services whenever needed. Native American women have been frequent recipients of violence due to poverty and victimization as well as racism, sexism, and the legacy of colonialism. In the United States the data on this tragic problem is just now becoming available.

What Violet has experienced has not been easy and communicating with her counselor and family who care for her will help her to manage symptoms and become stronger for her life ahead. She also turns to her cultural practices of smudging, singing, and prayer to connect her to greater harmony and healing within her spirit. She returns home to her reservation to visit her mother and extended family, and to meet with a medicine woman from her tribe. She also likes to participate in powwows wearing her mother’s traditional ribbon skirt when she can.

Answer the following questions:

  1. Research and discuss about why Native American women are targeted more for violent acts.
  2. What is smudging and what are powwows?
  3. What is the “Not Invisible Act of 2020” and what could it do to create improved lives for Native American women and girls?

Policy Considerations

  1. Coordinate prevention efforts grants, and programs related to missing and murdered Indigenous peoples
    • Congress unanimously passed the Not Invisible Act in October 2020 to increase intergovernmental coordination to identify and combat violent crime against American Indians and Alaska Natives and on Indian lands. The Act calls for the Interior Department to coordinate prevention efforts grants and programs related to missing and murdered Indigenous peoples. The Act will increase coordination to investigate and resolve cases and ensure accountability and address the underlying causes behind the numbers including among others, sexual violence, human trafficking, domestic violence, violent crime, systemic racism, economic disparities, and substance use and addictions.
  2. Commitment to work with tribal nations
    • President Biden declared May 5, 2021, as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day with a commitment to work with tribal nations to address the disproportionate high number of missing or murdered Indigenous people.

Calls to Action

  • Require diverse representation of people from Indian Country at the table with federal officials.
  • Ensure that Native women, girls, and 2SLLGBTQQIA people are represented in governance and that their rights are respected
  • Challenge the acceptance and normalization of violence.


US Department of Justice. (2021). Office of public affairs press release: Justice and interior departments take next steps in implementation of not invisible act. Wednesday, August 4, 2021.

US Department of the Interior – Indian Affairs. (2021). The not invisible act commission.