During the 1980s, a group of Duluth women came together to discuss the high rates of domestic violence that were occurring against Native women within the local community. Joining together with Duluth's Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP), the women eventually formed their own nonprofit called Mending the Sacred Hoop (MSH). "Mending the Sacred Hoop really came out of a series of conversations among Native people working to address domestic violence in the community," said Holly Oden, information and resource specialist at MSH, which is located on East Superior Street. "We were a part of the Duluth Model, which is quite a visible agency nationally and internationally in addressing domestic violence."
Eventually, MSH became its own nonprofit organization, partially due to the greater amount of funding that was made available through the passage of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, Oden said. Though the organization does not provide direct services to women faced with domestic violence, it focuses largely on providing programs that will address domestic violence issues locally.
MSH does this by providing training and technical assistance programs to tribal organizations and other local groups. As part of the statewide Sacred Hoop Coalition, MSH works closely with other organizations that provide similar programs.
"We're here to provide training on various issues surrounding domestic violence, and we're here to help them implement those things," Oden said of the organizations MSH helps train. "We really want to help those tribal communities who are receiving funding to address domestic violence in their communities."
Today, MSH continues to provide extensive training programs to organizations and tribal communities, with the goal of addressing the high rates of domestic violence experienced by Native women. According to a 1999 study by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau of Crime Statistics, violent crime rate against Native women was twice that of white, meaning it was experienced by 98 Native women out of 1,000.
The same study showed that Native women reported both simple and aggravated assault at a rate more than double that of all other races. It also reported that Native women as victims of crime is twice the national rate.
"Native women nationally and locally are over three times more likely to experience intimate partner violence and sexual assault, in particular," Oden said. "They are at the highest risk of violence than women of all other races nationally."
MSH also conducts local studies that are used in training programs and to educate the community about the importance of this issue locally.
"The rates of violence against Native women are extremely high," Oden said. "We are just here to help organizations and tribal communities address domestic violence and sexual assault."
Click here to read more about what Duluth nonprofits organizations and groups are doing to address domestic violence as well as homelessness among Native populations.