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Healing From Colonial Violence

Jolene Holgate CSVANW.jpeg
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Jolene Holgate is the Training & Education Director for the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women.

Commentary:

In light of the recent gun violence that continues to target marginalized communities, we have to name the underlying issue at hand: gender-based violence.

So far in 2022, there have been over 200+ mass shootings in the United States, in which a significant number included the murder of an intimate partner or family relative–generally women and children. A trend that continues to grow as demonstrated in 2019, when the California Law Review noted that nearly 40-percent of mass shooting perpetrators have a history of engaging in domestic violence against their partner or a relative, and most recently, we have learned that has now increased to 68-percent in 2022.

We need to recognize that perpetrators of extreme violence and domestic terrorism have a history of gender-based violence towards women and children, and it is not just limited to domestic violence. So it begs the question – where does this violence come from, and how do we garner solutions?

Colonization and settler colonialism fostered an adverse environment that allowed patriarchy, capitalism, and imperialism to fester and infect our communities in detrimental ways. But the solution to colonial violence lies in our communities, and we and our partners are already doing the work to heal from and prevent it.

As we work towards liberation and safety for our communities, it’s important that we uplift the critical efforts of grassroots organizations doing the work to end violence against Black and Brown communities. Examples of organizations doing liberation and anti violence work and directly addressing prevention and community response to gender based violence are:

  • The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW) mission is to stop violence against Native women and children by advocating for social change in our communities. CSVANW provides training and education, technical assistance, political advocacy, and community support within the southwest region. 
  • Pueblo Action Alliance is a collective that is intent on fighting for environmental justice through culture, education, and direct action to protect all tribal communities and have a youth component that ensures this valuable knowledge is carried through to the next generation. 
  • Additionally, Missing & Murdered Diné Relatives (MMDR) is a task force of volunteers working with Diné families calling for justice of their murdered relatives and to recover missing loved ones. MMDR utilizes the Diné Wellness Model which centers kinship, harmony, balance, and the land as components of solutions to modern day ‘monsters' plaguing the Navajo Nation. These community groups are leveraging traditional knowledge and value systems to end violence and other social issues that have been pervasive in their communities that have prevented them from being wholly safe. This can change. 

These types of mobilization are not new, rather they are ongoing processes that tribal nations have shifted over the centuries to survive, preserve, and thrive in conditions that have been forced upon them. It is community work that is actively pushing against systemic oppression and reminding us that our women and children must be protected, while supporting the healing of our men.

Collectively, we can work towards a future where communities are free from violence, and we must nurture these community solutions through action and compassion.

For more information on resources that support survivors visit: csvanw.org

Jolene Holgate is the Training & Education Director for the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women.