Editor's Note | Vol. 20 | Issue 3

By Paula Julian, Filipina, Senior Policy Policy Specialist and Editor, NIWRC Restoration Magazine

On behalf of our NIWRC Restoration Magazine team—Liane, Kelsey, Tang, and I—thank you to all of our contributors for this November edition of Restoration Magazine and another year’s worth of content for “a political magazine created to make fundamental social justice changes based on the experience of [American Indian and Alaska Native women and Tribal Nations’] movement to live free of violence.” Highlights of what’s happened since our June edition1 include:

  • The 15th Women Are Sacred Conference, June 26-28 in Albuquerque, NM, with over 400 participants.
  • Not Invisible Act Commission Hearings in person in June and July and virtual in August. We expect Commission recommendations on actions the Federal Government can take to help combat violent crime—including missing persons, murder, and human trafficking—against Indians and within Indian lands to be released before the end of 2023 with a written response from the Secretary of the Interior and Attorney General not later than 90 days later.
  • Hanna Harris’ Red Dress Special July 3, at the Northern Cheyenne Chief’s Pow-Wow and Rodeo led by her Mother, Sister, and Son—Malinda, Rose, and Jeremiah—remembering when Hanna went missing and was found murdered 10 years ago and honoring all missing and murdered Indigenous persons.
  • Indian Tribes engaged in the 18th Annual Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) mandated Government-To-Government Tribal Consultation with the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ), Health and Human Services, and Interior August 8-10th in Tulsa. We expect the DOJ to release a summary report by early Spring 2024.
  • Justice for Kaysera’s 4th annual campaign, August 24 to September 11 (marking the day Kaysera went missing through the day Kaysera’s family was notified she had been found and the lack of accountability and justice for her murder) led by her family in collaboration with NIWRC, Sovereign Bodies Institute, Rising Hearts, and Waking Women Healing Institute. 
  • Healing Our Spirit Worldwide The Ninth Gathering September 11-15 in Vancouver, Canada, with over 3000 participants worldwide. The National Indian Health Board is hosting the 10th Gathering in Washington, D.C., in 2026.
  • The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition’s ongoing organizing including the National Day of Remembrance (September 30) and advocacy around Senate Bill 1723 (to establish a Truth and Healing Commission). 
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month, including our annual Tillie Black Bear Women Are Sacred Day on October 1.

While the violence and trauma shared through these efforts are unspeakable and violate the fundamental human rights of Indigenous peoples, it is through the sharing by survivors surrounded with love and support that we can and will heal the hurt, restore Indigenous protections, hold governments, systems, and societies accountable, and effect the fundamental social justice changes Indigenous women, peoples, and Nations deserve.

One of the many healing experiences from the Healing Our Spirit Worldwide Gathering in Vancouver was a woman singing a song to honor the 215 children whose remains were found buried in a mass grave near Kamloops Indian Residential School and inviting participants to hold the children in our arms lovingly as she sang. Like Restoration Magazine, this song helps create and sustain the brave and safe spaces for the seeds of healing and justice to take root and grow. In this way, we nourish our groundswell and grassroots movement to continue advocating for social change and justice.

We look forward to the end of 2023, the change in seasons from summer to fall to winter, spending time with family and friends, resting, recharging, reflecting on the past year, and setting intentions for 2024. Thank you to our NIWRC family—our staff and Board of Directors—for another year of working with Tribes, Tribal organizations, and many others to improve responses to violence against women. Thank you to our extended family—our many partners and allies—for working with NIWRC to advocate for removing systemic barriers facing American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women, their families, and communities.  Thank you to our readers, especially our subscribers, for your support and sharing what you learn in these pages, especially our calls to action with your families, friends, policy and lawmakers, and communities. Together—unity in action—we are the groundswell that will continue to change the culture and thoughts that accept violence against women as a norm. We must change the beliefs that disrespect women and the feminine in all systems and sectors—justice, education, health, economics, government, military, and religion.

How can we continue to center survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and their families, including those families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and relatives, and all of their helpers and advocates? How can we continue to address violence against women by strengthening connections with each other, the land, and the past, especially where we may not have strong or active connections? How can we evolve to account for new, expanded, deeper connections? Advocating for social change at local and federal also means we change and grow and continue to learn individually. What do you resolve to change, or how can you challenge yourself to grow? In 20 more years (through 2043), what do we want for ourselves, our families, Tribal Nations, Native Hawaiians, and relatives in other communities worldwide?

Please share your thoughts with us via this link through January 15, 2024. As the late Yup’ik Elder Rose Borkowski shared, “Nothing is ever impossible. Everything’s possible,” and the grassroots movement from the 70s to the present times reflects the impossible.

Paula S. Julian (Washté Wiya, Good Woman), Filipina
Editor, Restoration of Native Sovereignty and Safety for Native Women &
Interim Co-Director for Policy, NIWRC

1 https://www.niwrc.org/restoration-magazine/june-2023/restoration-native…