WATCH: The Broken Trust Between Native Survivors and the Justice System

An 18-month investigation by Maren Machles, Carrie Cochran, Angela M. Hill and Suzette Brewer at Newsy revealed the tragic consequences of the cracks in the justice system facing Native women—uncovering the breakdowns between federal and tribal governance that leave survivors with little recourse after experiencing sexual violence.

Among the findings in “A Broken Trust: Sexual Assault and Justice on Tribal Lands,” the Newsy report released last week, were some truly dismal numbers.

In Montana, they learned, the U.S. attorney’s office declined to prosecute 64 percent of sexual assault cases across reservations that were raised between 2013 and 2018. According to their findings, most tribal courts remain limited to a maximum of one-year sentences in rape cases, and only 16 of 319 federally recognized tribal judicial systems have implemented the 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act that could strengthen sentencing.

The full Newsy report can be found here.


Carmen Rios is a feminist media-maker and movement-builder. She's currently a Consulting Editor at Ms. and the host of Bitch Media's Popaganda podcast, and was previously the Managing Digital Editor at Ms. and the Feminism Editor, Community Director and Social Media Co-Director at Autostraddle. Her work has also been published by outlets like the Atlantic's CityLab, BuzzFeed, ElixHER, Feministing, Girlboss, Mic, MEL and Everyday Feminism; and she is additionally a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @carmenriosss.