Sisters Rising

Sisters Rising

Sisters Rising is is the story of six Native women fighting to heal a society crippled for far too long by violence against indigenous women in the United States. Dawn was in the Army, now she’s a tribal cop in the midst of the North Dakota oil boom that threatens to pull the last threads of her Native culture apart. Patty teaches indigenous women’s self-defense workshops. Sarah is an attorney and scholar fighting to overturn restrictions on tribal sovereignty and increase legislative protections for Native women. Loreline and Lisa are grassroots advocates working outside of the system to support survivors of violence and influence legislative change. Chalsey is writing the first anti-sex trafficking code to be introduced to a reservation’s tribal court. As both Standing Rock and Fort Berthold illustrate, environmental degradation and violence against women are part of a larger colonial American legacy that continues unabated. Non-Indian perpetrators exploit gaps in tribal jurisdictional authority and target with immunity Native women as ‘safe victims.’ Amnesty International has described the failure to protect Native women as “egregious human rights abuses.” Sisters Rising is an urgent call to action and a demand for tribal sovereignty and self-determination as the necessary step towards ending violence against Native women.




Crew Statements: 

The US Dept of Justice reports that Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault than all other American women. Amnesty International found that 1 in 3 Native women reports having been raped in her lifetime - furthermore 86% of the offenses are committed by non-Native men. As Patty Stonefish says, “Honestly I don’t know a single Native woman who HASN’T been attacked.” Scholar Sarah Deer points out that reports of gold prospectors abducting and raping Native women during the California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century bears a chilling parallel to the violence and sex trafficking occurring in the midst of the fracking boom on Fort Berthold Reservation today. As tribal nations seek to decolonize and recover from systemic persecution and trauma, the women in Sisters Rising chart a parallel journey as they heal themselves by tackling the problem of violence against Native women. A tangled web woven by the ongoing legacy of colonial violence towards Native Americans fuels these high rates of rape. Tribal sovereignty, including jurisdictional authority over non-Indians, has been eroded and removed through a series of Congressional decisions and Supreme Court cases - what Attorney Sarah Deer calls the “Maze of Injustice.” Violence against Native women constitutes an urgent and ongoing human rights violation that must be brought to the attention of the public in order for meaningful and systemic change to occur. We can find the way forward by amplifying the voices of powerful Native women survivors and heeding their informed strategies for positive change.

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