A Case Study of the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
thesis by Kimberly Dawn Robertson, 2008
“You must be able to see where you have been before you can possibly know where you want to go.”
– Muscogee Creek saying
“I come from a long line of madwomen and of this, I am proud.”
– MariJo Moore (Cherokee)
There is a story about three sisters who leave camp one morning to fetch water
from a stream. On their way, they visit with one another and enjoy the warm weather.
However, when they near the deep and fast flowing stream, they begin to hear the cries
and screams of babies. The sisters drop their buckets and run to the water's edge. They
are horrified to see dozens of babies caught in the current. Many of the babies are
drowning. The first sister jumps into the water and begins to throw as many of them as
she can onto the bank of the stream. The second sister yells, "You're not saving enough
of them!" She, too, jumps into the water. However, she begins to teach the babies to
swim so that they can save themselves. The third sister starts running upstream. When
the other two notice her action, they holler at her to help them. She turns and hollers
back, "I am! I'm going upstream to figure out how the babies are getting in the water
in the first place."
Sacred Circle, the National Resource Center to End Violence Against Native Women recounts this story in their domestic violence resource booklet in order to inspire critical thinking around the issue of violence against Native women and to illustrate the multi-pronged approach crucial to combating this violence. As the three sisters teach us, there are multiple responses to crisis situations, each of them has their benefits, and they are most successful when utilized together. Yet, it is the response the third sister teaches us that we must pay particular attention to at the current historical moment:
To end violence against Native women, we must jump in, like the first sister, and provide shelter, food and care. We must also
jump in, like the second sister and help each other deal with individual experiences. However, unless we come to an accurate understanding of the root causes of violence against Native women and reclaim our roots as Native people, the social transformation necessary to end violence will not occur.
"With this master's thesis, I set out on the path forged by the three sisters and my other aunties in advocating for the changes necessary to eliminate personal and societal violence against all women and their children, and Native women in particular." - Kimberly Dawn Robertson
Download the entire thesis here.