The Chippewa Cree Tribe of Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation is getting federal help to prevent violence and help victims of sexual assaults.
U. S. Attorney Michael Cotter announced in a press release Wednesday that the Department of Justice will give the tribe $572,708 to enhance intervention and treatment programs and a $299,974 grant to support the Sexual Assault Response Team, or SART, at Rocky Boy.
Dr. Nate St. Pierre, coordinator of the Rocky Boy's Children Exposed to Violence Project, applauded the grants.
“Sexual abuse affects an entire community, ” he said in the release. “We need to address the problem of sexual abuse using confidential and effective approaches that are within an appropriate cultural context. At the same time, we need to engage members of the community, as a whole, regarding the best way to protect the victims of sexual abuse. ”
In July, Cotter and the U. S. Department of Justice, announced the SART Initiative in Montana as a pilot initiative intended to build safe and healthy communities in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
Native American and Alaska Native women are raped at rates higher than women of any other race, and yet sexual assault is among the most under-reported crimes, the release says.
The SART team at Rocky Boy comprise representatives of the United States Attorney's Office, the FBI, the Chippewa Cree Tribal Criminal Investigation Office, Indian Health Service nurses, tribal prosecutors and staff from the Rocky Boy's Children Exposed to Violence Project that St. Pierre coordinates.
"Together, we can provide compassionate and innovative care to sexual assault survivors," Cotter said in the release. "I am hopeful that the grant dollars and the presence of a SART on the Rocky Boy's Reservation will provide another tool to improve intervention and appropriate care for sexual assault victims. We must earn the trust of sexual assault survivors so he or she will feel safe when reporting crimes."
The grants were awarded by the Department of Justice’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation, which awarded its first grants in 2010. The program was developed through the department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing, Office of Justice Programs and Office on Violence Against Women.
The program awarded 286 grants totaling $245 million in 2011 and 2012, and has awarded grants to the Blackfeet Tribe and the Fort Belknap Indian Community as well as to the Chippewa Cree.