NIWRC Partners with Tribal Program to Develop Toolkit for Native 2SLGBTQ Relatives

Mallory Adamski (Diné), Director of Communications and Advancement, NIWRC
NIWRC Partners with Tribal Program to Develop Toolkit for Native 2SLGBTQ Relatives

This winter, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians’ Avellaka Program will host a series of “Virtual Conversations with the Field,” where family, friends and Native 2S/LGBTQ survivors can discuss how to reconnect with cultural teachings to support Two-Spirit, Native lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer relatives facing domestic violence.

The goals of the virtual discussions are to engage in conversations and gather feedback from family members and friends of Native 2S/LGBTQ victim-survivors of domestic violence, as they are often the first responders for the protection and support in close-knit Native communities. Discussions will also focus on how families and friends can help minimize the isolation of their loved ones, assist them with safety planning, and provide validation, encouragement and long-term support.

“To develop resources for our Two-Spirit and LGBTQ relatives in a good way, we are asking community members to connect with our traditional teachings and values of being a good relative and to really dig deep about our relationships to each other,” said Wendy Schlater, Vice Chairwoman for the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians and NIWRC Board Treasurer. “Our goal is to encourage our relatives to remember their individual and collective responsibilities to support each other.”

There is little data to accurately represent the rates of domestic violence and sexual violence within the Two-Spirit/ Native LGBTQ community. However, on a national scale, the rate of domestic violence within the LGBTQ community is considerably high, with 44 percent of lesbian women and 61 percent of bisexual women – compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women – who have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, according to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey also noted that 26 percent of gay men and 37 percent of bisexual men – compared to 29 percent of heterosexual men – experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. For Native men, there can be an added layer of silence and stigma in seeking help for domestic violence or sexual violence, where many find it difficult to speak out without retaliation or shaming.

The information and feedback from NIWRC’s virtual conversations will specifically help inform the development of a new specialized Native 2S/LGBTQ toolkit to assist family and friends concerned about a loved one, including available resources for victim-survivors. The toolkit is expected to be made available in Fall 2021.

Paula Julian, NIWRC Senior Policy Specialist, said what is learned from the conversations will not only help to develop the toolkit, but will also help inform national policy and recommendations when it comes to supporting Two-Spirit and Native LGBTQ relatives, and addressing colonization as the root cause of violence in Indian country, including homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

“This work is really decolonization work,” Julian said, who works directly with partners at the Avellaka Program. “Holding space for our Two-Spirit and LGBTQ relatives requires that we connect with Native teachings about what it means to be family and create those healing spaces. This reconnecting and creating safe space cannot solely depend on having funding or resources to happen. At the same time, we recognize that without staff or resources, change can be slow and difficult.”

Family and friends, Native 2S/LGBTQ survivors, and advocates are invited to participate in the “Virtual Conversations with the Field,” scheduled for two dates: December 8, 2020, at 12 p.m. MST, and January 12, 2021, at 12 p.m. MST. The online discussion will be a two-hour interactive conversation. You can register for the virtual conversations at