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National Workgroup on Safe Housing for American Indian and Alaska Native Survivors of Gender-Based Violence: Lessons Learned

Published Date: 
Friday, January 31, 2020

Introduction
The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence convened a meeting in Phoenix, Arizona on June 4-5, 2019 to establish a National Workgroup on Safe Housing for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Survivors of Gender-Based Violence. The goal of this workgroup was to bring together experts from Indian country who work in the fields of gender-based violence and housing to develop policy and create concrete recommendations for technical assistance, resources and other supports for the sole purpose of increasing the availability of safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable housing for AI/AN survivors of gender-based violence.

All that we are is story. From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind. We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story. All of us. What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together. When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship – we change the world, one story at a time... -– Richard Wagamese

At the core of this convening were essential questions about how we can be good relatives to one another, to our non-human kinship and to the Land. Because if housing stability is going to be fully realized, we have to ask and answer important questions about what it means to have a duty to one another, about what it means to do good work and to be good people. If we start from the framework that we all deserve safety, that we all deserve a place to belong, that we all deserve community, we can start to move forward. If we can believe that housing and shelter are basic human rights, just as they are basic human needs, we can start to see the outlines of what it is that we have to change about our existing framework and about how we have set about doing this work in the past. What the convening showed us, if anything, is that we truly need time to get our arms around these issues, because the actualization of housing stability will require a major shift in how we have approached this issue historically.