NIWRC Supports the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council’s Decision to Protect Its Residents

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(LAME DEER, Mont., January 6, 2023)—A decision on January 3, 2023, regarding the criminal sexual abuse of four Cheyenne minors by a non-Indian pastor on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, came to light across Indian Country. As a Native woman-led organization with the mission of ending violence against Native women and children, it is our sacred responsibility at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) to center and stand in solidarity with victim-survivors of sexual violence. 

"We support the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council's decision to exercise its sovereign authority to exclude Dean Alan Smith from the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation,” states Lucy Simpson, executive director of NIWRC. “This decision means the Council chose to believe the survivors and protect our youth. We at NIWRC stand with our home community and will always stand with survivors." 

The Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council’s decision to exclude the pastor from the Reservation boundaries affirms the sovereign authority of Tribes and recognizes that they know what is best for their communities. With this decision, the Tribal Council heard the peoples’ concerns and acted swiftly to protect its citizens.

The grave reality of violence experienced by American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) is not news to Indian Country. More than 40% of Native children experience two or more acts of violence by the age of 18. Sexual abuse and domestic abuse are direct results of colonization and the lack of government action. As relatives and advocates, it is our responsibility to listen to our youth and children. Violence and abuse can happen to anyone. Blame should never be placed on the victim. To heal, we encourage creating a reliable, non-judgmental space to discuss healthy relationships and what it means to feel safe. We must guide and uplift our community to reclaim the power that has been taken and begin to heal. Please be kind to yourself and give each other space. 

Let this also be a reminder to mainstream media and federal agencies of the immediate crises affecting Native peoples. We all must do our part in demanding justice for victims and holding perpetrators accountable, while supporting the most sacred, and often the most vulnerable, in our communities. Please keep yourself safe, hold your loved ones close, and believe in survivors. 


StrongHearts Native Helpline (1-844-762-8483) is a 24/7, confidential and anonymous domestic and sexual violence helpline for Native Americans. A text-based chat option is also available through their website, 

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