Justice Denied Tribal Communities

Date of Alert: 
Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Justice Denied

A tangled bureaucracy has left tribal communities facing an epidemic of violent crime

Colleen Keane 10.03.12_COVER

“It’s not safe. There’s no safety. You can’t trust anybody. You got to protect yourself,” Rebekah Apachito says. As one of about 1,600 tribal members who live in the Navajo community of To’hajiilee, 90 miles west of Santa Fe, she has good reason to be afraid: According to federal crime data, Native American women are 10 times more likely than the average American to be murdered. Even more shockingly, approximately one in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. 

Bright sunshine streams through gaps in the curtains covering Apachito’s windows, illuminating a photo of her son, Jordan, wearing a cap and gown at his 2008 graduation, and another of her mother in a traditional Navajo dress. It’s her day off from her job at a health facility in Albuquerque, and Apachito is dressed casually in a loose red jersey and black pants. Her dark hair is somewhat disheveled from rounding up her seven dogs—along with deadbolts, window locks and a shotgun, they’re her way of protecting herself.

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