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Eric Olson, Sr., Chief Native Village of Hooper Bay, Alaska Annual 2019 Tribal Consultation

In one particular case back in the spring of 2013, a mother was beaten to death in front of her two children. The children thought their mother was sleeping and stayed by her side until the father sobered up and realized what he had done. Alcohol was a factor in this case! The father is now incarcerated, and the grandparents are left to finish raising the two children. Despite this horrible event, the children still love and miss both their father and their mother very much!

Now the question is could this have been prevented? Has the father beat up the mother before this horrible event happened? Did the mother wish she had a safe place for her and her children to go before she passed away? Has the father seen his father beat his mother up when he was growing up? How damaged and broken are the children now for witnessing such an event and how broken are their hearts? Is there hope for the children’s future to be living healthy lifestyles when they get older?

Not only do these questions pertain to this particular family, but it pertains to all families everywhere!

Now we as leaders have to ask ourselves: Could we prevent such things from happening? Can we provide a safe place for our women and children? Can we help these families receive counseling to better themselves? Can we break the cycle of violence?

I believe we can! I believe we can provide a safe place for our women and children and we can provide the necessary counseling for them. I believe fathers can get better and treat their families better as well. I believe that we still have hope for tomorrow for our children’s future!

If we provide them with temporary shelter, counseling and treatment facilities, and educate the children at a young age about violence; that it is not appropriate and not our way of life. Also living by example, that assault is not okay in any way, shape, or form!

Prevention, education, counseling, and treatment are the steps we should take and how we should approach this common problem in our villages! With the right people, we have the time, dedication, and panning, but we do not have the money to start these services. We need new buildings and staff to run these services, as well as the materials needed for them to perform their jobs. We also need housing for overcrowded families.

—Eric Olson, Sr., Chief, Native Village of Hooper Bay