Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty
At the start of the 2019 Spring Council Session on Monday, Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, Speaker Seth Damon, and members of the 24th Navajo Nation Council took part in the annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month walk in Window Rock.
Joining leadership, Navajo programs, coalitions, and community advocates participated in the walk that concluded at the Navajo Nation Council Chamber. Nationally, April is recognized as the Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the 2019 theme is entitled “I Ask,” which champions the message that asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions.
Delegate Crotty said the goal of the awareness walk was to promote awareness of sexual assault issues and to kick-off a Navajo Nation-wide campaign entitled “Start by Believing,” which encourages Navajo communities to positively respond to sexual assault claims and support survivors who were victims of sexual violence.
“In Crownpoint, we kicked-off a Start by Believing campaign. We need to recognize the traumas and the pain within communities, and how we can help each other so that we do not inflict lateral violence on each other. When we put down a prayer this morning, it was a foundation for us to bring this to life and put it into motion. You don’t need to be an elected leader—you are a leader in your home and a leader in your communities. It starts by believing our survivors,” said Delegate Crotty.
Delegate Crotty thanked participants for taking part in the awareness walk and said that in the last five years the Navajo Nation Council was able to pass key legislations that addressed human trafficking, AMBER Alert, cyberbullying, and revenge porn.
She stressed that moving forward, Council would need to begin developing and supporting projects such as a proposed database center that would house data and research relating to Missing and Murdered Diné Relatives (MMDR), sexual and domestic violence, and other crucial steps that would aid the Nation in understanding problem areas and to aid with effective policy development.
“We need a database for Missing and Murdered Diné Relatives – we need to know who is missing and which families need our help. These numbers might not be in national databases, but we need the capacity to have our own tracking system to begin how we can target these issues together on the Navajo Nation,” said Delegate Crotty. “As policymakers, we need this information to shape our laws and protect our people effectively.”
The proposed database center would be a collaborative effort between the Navajo programs such as the Epidemiology Center, Social Services, and academic institutions such as Diné College and Northern Arizona University. Delegate Crotty stated that conversations have begun to start planning for a database center and is seeking support from Navajo leadership.
“I appreciate my colleagues here—delegates, Speaker Damon, and President Nez. It starts from leadership to change the dynamic on how we deal with these issues. Not only to understand what is going on in the communities, but to work together to make changes and fund important support programs and shelters,” said Delegate Crotty. “So, I call on my colleagues to also support our endeavors to create this institute and continue the fight against violence in our communities.”
Also in attendance at the SAAM awareness event were Council Delegates Nathaniel Brown, Eugenia Charles-Newton, Charlaine Tso, and Wilson Stewart, Jr. Program participation included Navajo Nation Judicial Branch, Navajo Nation Strengthening Families Program, Navajo Nation Division of Social Services, Casey Family Programs, and Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition.
For more information to initiate a “Start by Believing” campaign in your community, please visit https://www.startbybelieving.org/.