Abigail Echo-Hawk discusses sexual violence among urban native Seattle women on KUOW

Abigail Echo-Hawk

IAS alum Abigail Echo-Hawk spoke with KUOW’s Guy Nelson about a 2010 survey of Native women living in the Seattle area. It found that 94 percent had been raped or coerced into sex at some point during their lives. Echo-Hawk directs the Urban Indian Health Institute (UHIHI) in Seattle and holds an M.A. in Policy Studies (’09) and B.A. in American Studies (’07) from UW Bothell.

UIHI’s mission is “to decolonize data, for indigenous people, by indigenous people.” UIHI collaborated with three Native community organizations and recruited 148 American Indian and/or Alaska Native women to participate in the survey. Because participants were predominantly low-income and homeless women, results cannot be generalized to all urban Native women in Seattle or across the U.S. Still, the study provides crucial information for communities and health care providers serving urban Native women.

Echo-Hawk discussed the process of releasing the report, which involved sharing it with the community first to give them control of the narrative. Because the media often focuses on the victimization of native communities, she wanted to ensure that the resiliency of survivors was also represented.

Echo-Hawk hopes that the report will galvanize political and financial support for Native communities. “My hope for releasing this information is that policy makers will take a look at what is going on. They will recognize that there are things happening at the federal level, such as the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and other things locally here in King county and Seattle where dollars are given to organizations to work with the most marginalized communities.  And I think what this data tells us is that native communities need to be the ones leading the way to work with our own communities.”

Listen to the interview and read the full report.