Culturally Appropriate Advocacy Identifies Need for Adequate Resources

By StrongHearts Native Helpline

Historical Trauma, Reviving Culture, and Finding Justice

StrongHearts Native Helpline is working to uplift the voices of survivors by recognizing the strength and resilience of Indigenous peoples. We acknowledge that domestic and sexual violence have lived in our communities for far too long and that victim-survivors are often denied justice. 

“Our history was never written through the eyes of our people who narrowly survived the forces of colonization and assimilation,” said CEO Lori Jump. “In the eyes of elders, we can see historical trauma without them speaking a word. We know that domestic and sexual violence was used as a means to control us and to control each other. We must dispel the belief that we were born this way by teaching our children about our real history.”

For example, in 1791, William Bartram (American naturalist) wrote about the Creek and Cherokee Nations: “An Indian never attempts, nay, he cannot use towards a woman amongst them any indelicacy or indecency, either in action or language. I never saw or heard of an instance of an Indian beating his wife or other female, or reproving them in anger or harsh language.”

Domestic and sexual violence are not traditional practices.  We must strive to revive our culture and acknowledge that our values are historically based on humanity, love, respect, and honor. We must also uplift the voices of victim-survivors and seek justice in our courts to hold perpetrators responsible for their crimes. 

Inadequate Resources

Part of StrongHearts’ mission to restore power to Native Americans impacted by domestic and sexual violence includes developing a unique, culturally specific database that incorporates Native-centered resources on top of those resources utilized by mainstream advocates. As such, we know there simply are not enough resources available to our relatives. 

For instance, there are 576 federally recognized Tribal Nations and only 250 Native-centered resources identified and listed in the StrongHearts database. When it comes to safe shelter, the situation is even more dire, with less than 60 culturally-appropriate shelters nationwide. Given the epidemic-level rates of violence our relatives' experience, this is nothing less than tragic.

More funding is necessary at not only the federal level but also the state level. The federal government must do better to meet their trust responsibilities, and states must do better to meet the needs of all residents in their states—especially those populations plagued by violence.

Culturally Appropriate Advocacy

At StrongHearts, all of our advocates are citizens of Tribal Nations and have been trained to understand Native cultures and traditions, the unique barriers to justice, and the need for accessible Native-centered service providers. 

Culturally appropriate means StrongHearts advocates understand the significance of being Native-centered, trauma-informed, and empowerment-based. 

  • Native-centered means that our advocates understand the core values of Indigenous peoples. 
  • Trauma-informed means our advocates recognize domestic and sexual violence as a symptom of colonization and assimilation. 
  • Empowerment-based means that our advocates recognize the importance of giving power back to our people; trust that they know what is best for them, and help them to find the resources they want and need. 

Core Values and Guiding Principles

It is an essential component of StrongHearts advocacy that we adhere to core values and guiding principles that were set forth by our ancestors. We must honor their teachings in our advocacy, and in doing so, we adhere to seven principles: culture, balance, interrelatedness, humility, bravery, resiliency, and trust.   

  • Culture: Indigenous culture is at the heart of our existence. We connect with all Tribal Nations and honor their diversity. 
  • Balance: Our culture is rooted in traditional lifeways inclusive of the mind, body, and spirit and to promote a healthy balance.
  • Interrelatedness: We honor our connection to our relatives, ancestors, and Mother Earth. We strive to overcome oppression and endeavor to promote healing. 
  • Humility: We learn equally from Native teachings, including the lessons learned in nontraditional ways. We value the strength of our people, validate their lived experiences, and work to create an empathetic and mutual understanding. 
  • Bravery: We face the unique challenges of Native people and call upon the strength and bravery of our ancestors to meet those challenges with mental and moral courage. 
  • Resilience: Centered on the resiliency of Indigenous survivors and their ability to adapt in the face of adversity, we seek to promote a healing journey in our quest for social justice. 
  • Trust: We honor our people and endeavor to create an environment where truth and honesty are valued while building trust among and for our people.

Culturally-appropriate support and advocacy mean that StrongHearts advocates embrace the resilience of our people and the strength found in restoring our traditional lifeways.

Contact StrongHearts Native Helpline

For safe, confidential, and anonymous support and advocacy, StrongHearts Native Helpline’s advocates are available 24/7. Call or text 1-844-7NATIVE or visit our to chat online.