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Dance Shawls Honor Domestic Violence Survivors and Celebrate Their Recovery

Society & Culture  (tags: Domestic Abuse, Indians, Native Americans, American Indians, americans, culture, society, ethics, GoodNews, humans, interesting, rights, safety, violence, women )

- 3442 days ago -
DENVER - The colorful fringed shawls, adorned or austere, stood draped atop tables, mute testimony to women who have survived domestic violence. Pinned to each was a wearer's story - a daughter torn because her father hit her mother and she loves them...

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kat yazzie (400)
Monday December 22, 2008, 7:43 am

DENVER – The colorful fringed shawls, adorned or austere, stood draped atop tables, mute testimony to women who have survived domestic violence. Pinned to each was a wearer’s story – a daughter torn because her father hit her mother and she loves them both; a woman with a partner who resembles her violent father, and many others.
A black shawl’s decorations represent the three times its owner escaped death at the hands of someone she loved.
“This meeting is dedicated to those who survived and those who did not survive and also to those who are just becoming aware they are in a domestic violence situation,” said a coordinator of the gathering. “It is also for the children, who are the reason some of us have survived – we cared about our children.”
October, national Domestic Violence Awareness Month, was nearly over when nonprofit Denver Indian Family Resource Center held a gathering, “Domestic Violence in Indian Country,” Oct. 25 and 27, but that was deliberate – the dates were selected after the hubbub of early-month activities had died down.
Although domestic violence occurs throughout North America, the numbers are particularly startling in Indian country, where Native women experience higher rates of physical violence than other groups, where one in three will be raped in her lifetime, where more than 6 out of 10 will be physically assaulted, and where homicide is the third most likely cause of death of Native women ages 15 to 34.
In addition to broad indicators of physical and emotional abuse are signs of more culturally specific abuse in Indian country, including competition over “Indianness,” the abuser’s use of relatives to beat up the victim, buying into “blood quantum competitions,” and misinterpreting culture to “prove male superiority/female inferiority,” according to Sacred Circle/Cangleska Inc. material at the gathering.
Teresa Bernie Fresquez, Ihanktonwan Nakota, a DIFRC family advocate who opened the gathering, said the shawls also are reminders of women who were “very isolated.”
Kim Johnson, Seminole/Sac-Fox, Denver Indian Family Resource Center caseworker, attended a Domestic Violence in Indian Country gathering Oct. 25 and 27 that included a shawl display to commemorate survivors of domestic abuse.
In her own experience with domestic violence, “I remember there were marches and rallies, but I would never go. I would stay at home and wouldn’t go out into the community. It’s very important for us to have events like this, to show there is a lot of hope for a good life after domestic violence. Mainly we find it in our culture – in coming together for something like this,” she said.
Fresquez said she became aware of the reality of her abusive relationship when she took a psychology class as a student at the University of South Dakota and it “was describing what I was feeling – you need awareness, you really do.”
Sidney Stone Brown, Blackfeet, DIFRC child and family therapist, said that in adulthood she understood her father’s violence toward her non-Native mother to have been a reflection of his peoples’ heritage of anger against whites, but she still chose an emotionally abusive partner and “I was being chipped away day-by-day.”
The relationships among colonization, historical trauma, the imposition of foreign life ways, and domestic violence underscored presentations at the gathering.
“Historical trauma is acted out within the family,” said Fresquez, who was sent to Catholic boarding school at age 8. “Our conquerors did what they did to cause our family systems to disintegrate.”
Theresa Halsey, Hunkpapa/Sicangu/Oglala/Yankton, DIFRC community coordinator, said that as a people, “We’re still living with our enemy” and anger and alcoholism can be one result.
Halsey, who has worked with domestic violence victims, said that “about 98 percent of women will return to the men, and we all have husbands, brothers, other family members – we have to keep the men in our lives. It’s part of keeping the circle whole.”
Brown said the Blackfeet had occupied their tribal homeland more than 10,000 years and oral history goes back 40,000 years, but the land base, government, resources, language and culture were damaged or lost through the power and control exerted under colonization, in the same way that a woman’s choices and resources are eroded or lost because of domestic violence.
Despite the lengthy Blackfeet Nation history before contact with Europeans, “We had the experience of abruptly losing it (land and culture) and achieving prisoner-of-war status,” she said.
The Survivors Dance Shawl Exhibit was to remind participants in the Domestic Violence in Indian Country gathering that “As survivors, we are beginning to dance again,” the coordinators said.

Pamylle G (461)
Monday December 22, 2008, 7:59 am
Wow - what a constructive and creative way to express personal and social tragedy and raise awareness !

Thanks, Kat.

Elm Morrison (357)
Monday December 22, 2008, 11:54 am
I would urge all women to read: 'Women who run with the wolves'. It is a powerful regeneration of the female psyche, and any woman who has ever suffered from violence will find her way back as she reads this book.
Kat, this is a beautiful honour to that which makes us women. We survive, to love yet again. Thank you for sharing this. Blessings to all the women of this world.

Amena Andersson (187)
Monday December 22, 2008, 12:51 pm
This is beautiful. Exqusite shawls, marvelous women, and great idea. Healing by coming together in strength. Makes me proud to be a woman.

Talldeer C (47)
Monday December 22, 2008, 2:23 pm
This is a Beautiful way to Honour the Abused!! I myself have lived through a physically abusive Grandfather and Father but some how we survive these things..Eureka M. I am in the middle of the book "Women who run with the wolves" and agree with you 100%..Thanks Kat..

. (0)
Monday December 22, 2008, 3:44 pm
I too grew in a very abusive home not my Mother or Father but my brother, the fights we so bad that they couldn't stop us. It would happen 2 or maybe more times a week, My Father was bed ridden sick and my mom tryed her best he was jealous of me because I was the tallest of the family. I fought him like a man to stay alive I'm a suriver, He is gone now and died at a ver yound age. I forgave him quite a few years before he died he too was a warrior believe you me. But he should have put it to some good not to the bad and maybe his life would have lasted longer. Thanks Kat

sue M (184)
Monday December 22, 2008, 6:12 pm
Beautiful! I hope they do well!

Bob F (10)
Monday December 22, 2008, 8:15 pm
Anything that brings domestic violence to light is a plus.

Henry P (171)
Tuesday December 23, 2008, 10:24 pm
Thanks Kat

Jenny Dooley (830)
Friday December 26, 2008, 3:22 pm
This is a wonderful way to symbolize survival, loss, grieving, and pain. So often words aren't enough.

Brenda P (146)
Tuesday December 30, 2008, 1:24 pm

Blue Bunting (855)
Thursday February 19, 2009, 9:59 pm
Christian Domestic Discipline - Loving Godly Christian Marriages

"...has the authority to spank his wife for punishment..."

Yet more info & commentary: Spare the rod, spoil the wife - Broadsheet -

On her Amazon blog, Leah Kelly writes: "I've been having a hard time keeping things in order. My husband thinks a maintenance session might help me get back on track. I have neglected my health as of late and have been a bit ill, followed by an exacerbation of fibromyalgia. I am behind on housework a bit (just a bit -- I've been careful to keep that going). I'm behind on homeschooling. My husband calls these the three H's -- Health, House, Homeschooling. Letting these slide will get me in trouble faster than anything."
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