Panelists call for teamwork to combat high rates of violence against Native women
The alleged victims of Brian Smith are now part of one of Alaska's most troubling statistics: its high rate of violence against Native women and children. Thursday at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, a panel discussed the issue and what can be done to solve it.
Many came forward to share their stories, and their pain.
“I have struggled with personal relationships,” said Anna Sattler David, producer of Anna’s Alaska, a video web series about Native issues and a survivor of sexual assault. “I have felt intrinsically flawed my entire life, and it wasn't my fault at three years old."
Everyone was asking what can be done?
“We need to look at how to do things differently,” said Barry Wilson, Director of the Alaska State Troopers.
Many agreed that the solution lies in increased teamwork.
“If you could provide DNA, if you could provide information, if you could provide some form of support for furthering those investigations, we will solve them," Wilson said.
Even some who spoke critically of law enforcement agreed on that.
“I still think that the state and feds need to step it up, really step it up,” David said. “But we have to work with them in order to be able to do this, and that's the bottom line."
One of the big issues that the panel acknowledged was a shortage of investigators.
“We can't be everywhere,” Wilson said. “I have 300 positions in my division that services Alaska. That's a pretty big state."
Everyone in attendance agreed, something has to change.