Dozens participate in walks to raise awareness about domestic violence and MMIW
WINDOW ROCK, Arizona — Tisa Bernally held a feather in the air while walking with a group toward the Navajo Nation Council chamber here to raise awareness about domestic violence on the tribal land.
Bernally said she is a domestic violence survivor and used services in San Juan County to end her relationship.
Because of what she experienced, she said she knows the Navajo Nation needs to more services for families dealing with domestic violence, including revising tribal laws and strengthening tribal courts.
"I'm walking for my family, my children. I stood up against domestic violence in my family and alcoholism. And I'm walking for those of us who went through it and those of us that don't have to. We need to create change in our nation," she said.
The walk was the idea of Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, and it brought together survivors of domestic violence and leaders from the legislative and executive branches.
It was also one of two walks that took place before the tribal council started its fall session on Oct. 18.
Change was also on the mind of participants in the Diné Sáanii for Justice march.
Diné Sáanii for Justice was started this fall by a group of Navajo women to call attention to injustices women face on the tribal land and the crisis of missing and murdered Diné women and girls.
Katherine Benally, one of the group founders and a former council delegate, repeatedly called on Navajo leaders to hear the need to reform how missing persons and sexual assault cases are handled by agencies such as tribal police, criminal investigators and the prosecutor's office.
She added that they are appealing to lawmakers to strengthen tribal laws, develop an agency that handles capital crimes, establish healing centers and implement rural addressing systems and 911 service across the tribal land.
"We have to pull together and help one another. That's what we decided we're going to do. We're not going to complain anymore, we have to make headways now before they steal another child of ours, another woman of ours. We can't let them just keep doing what they're doing," Benally said.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at email@example.com.
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