The Cherokee Nation announced recently that an almost $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will be used to increase awareness and help prosecute more cases involving sexual assault against women.
The pilot program aims to improve how the justice system, in particular prosecutors, handles sexual assault cases.
“There is an epidemic of violence against women and sexual assault across Indian Country, but with these new Department of Justice funds, the Cherokee Nation will be able to better protect our citizens and prosecute violent offenders,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Through our innovative and pioneering ONE FIRE program, we have created new avenues to offer aid to survivors of assault and violence. Now, through the VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) funding, we can go after the predators who assault Native women.”
The Cherokee Nation will receive $390,544 total for the next two years. Through the grant, the tribe’s Attorney General’s office, Cherokee Nation marshals and ONE FIRE will work together to improve prosecution processes and increase safety for victims of sexual assault.
More specialized training for Cherokee Nation employees who work with sexual assault victims will also be funded through the grant.
"The Cherokee Nation, throughout our history, has always honored the women of our tribe. They are the center of our families and communities,” said Attorney General Todd Hembree. “Violence against women cannot and will not be tolerated in our nation. I am very proud that the nation was awarded this grant. Chief Baker and the AG's office ensure these funds will be put to good use."
As part of the pilot program, the seven grant recipients will also implement measures of success for the handling of sexual assault cases and help implement better practices in other agencies throughout the country.
For more information on services provided by the Cherokee Nation to victims of sexual assault, visit www.cherokee.org and click the ONE FIRE link under the services tab. For more information on the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women’s Sexual Assault Justice Initiative, visit www.justice.gov/briefing-room.
The Cherokee Nation is among seven agencies and the only tribe in the country to receive part of the $2.7 million as part of the Office on Violence Against Women’s Sexual Assault Justice Initiative.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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