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 self-proclaimed feminist superstar and the former digital editor at Ms. Her writing on queerness, gender, race and class has been published in print and online by outlets including BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, DAME, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic, the National Women’s History Museum, SIGNS and the Women’s Media Center; and she is a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. @carmenriosss|