American Indian/Alaska Native SANE-SART Initiative
Sexual violence in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities remains at epidemic levels. Native Americans experience sexual assault victimizations at a rate of 2.5 times that of other races, and 1 in 3 AI/AN women will be a victim of rape during her lifetime.18 In 2010, OVC began a partnership with the FBI Office for Victim Assistance and the Indian Health Service (IHS) to enhance the response to victims of sexual violence in Indian Country. The AI/AN Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Sexual Assault Response Team (SANE-SART) Initiative continues to address the acute needs of tribal victims of sexual violence through focused efforts to build the capacity of tribal communities to provide coordinated, community-based, victim-centered responses. The 5-year project encompasses three demonstration sites, coordinators at IHS and the FBI, training and technical assistance, and support from the Attorney General’s federal advisory committee and multidisciplinary groups—all committed to institutionalizing sustainable, culturally relevant, evidence-based practices to meet the needs of tribal victims of sexual assault.
OVC and its federal and tribal partners have established three tribal demonstration sites at the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the Southern Indian Health Council, and the Tuba City Regional Healthcare Corporation. Each site now operates functional SANE-SART programs that have the capacity to provide access to services for both child and adult victims of sexual assault. OVC continues to support each community with ongoing access to training and technical assistance to strengthen the programs and ensure their long-term viability.
Multidisciplinary Working Group
OVC established a multidisciplinary working group of Indian Country professionals, with experience in developing a coordinated community response to sexual violence, to assist in development of a national strategy to enhance the ability of tribal governments and their partners to respond to sexual violence. The first draft of the National Strategy to Improve the Systemic Response to Sexual Violence in American Indian/Alaska Native Communities was completed in early 2014. OVC, IHS, and the Office on Violence Against Women are currently reviewing the draft strategy and are planning for distribution of the final report.
National Coordination Committee
With the authorization of the Attorney General, OVC chartered the National Coordination Committee in 2011, under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, to solicit advice about the complex issues surrounding sexual violence responses in AI/AN communities and the unique cultural issues facing AI/AN adult and child victims of sexual violence. The committee—comprising representatives from six national tribal organizations and five federal agencies, an expert in Alaska Native issues, and an expert in medical forensic exams—finalized its Report to the U.S. Attorney General on Improving Federal Agency Response to Sexual Violence in Tribal Nations: Issues and Recommendations in 2014 and submitted it to the Attorney General. Key recommendations include:
- Improving federal agency coordination and collaboration at the local level by establishing district-specific guidelines;
- Modifying DOJ personnel policies to increase accountability in hiring, training, and assessing federal employees;
- Improving DOJ grant solicitations and funding to secure sustainable funding for tribal victim assistance programs; and
- Improving public safety and public health by prioritizing the response to sexual violence.
OVC continues to work with its partners within DOJ and other stakeholders to implement these recommendations to increase the response to sexual violence in Indian Country.