In September 2011, Vice President Joe Biden launched the “1 is 2 Many” initiative to raise awareness of the need to reduce dating violence and sexual assault among women ages 16-24.
Now the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) has partnered with the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to supplement his campaign with a streamlined focus: preventing rape and sexual assault of young American Indian women.
The nationwide campaign “Restoring the Circle: Ending Violence and Abuse on Tribal College and University Campuses” will proactively address sexual assault and dating violence on three of 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs)—Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas; Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota.
The three TCUs, which have a combined reach to approximately 3,600 American Indian students, will work toward the initiative’s ambitious goal: “ensuring young American Indian women can pursue their education free from violence,” states an AIHEC press release.
The TCUs are committed to:
1) creating campus-wide policies for students and faculty that addresses gender-based violence and sexual violence;
2) developing response protocols for campus police and dormitory/housing programs;
3) organizing awareness training for students, faculty, and the entire campus community; and
4) initiating a public relations campaign to stop gender-based abuse and sexual violence.
On October 11, campaign officials hosted a one-day training and a kick-off event at Haskell Indian Nations University to educate the entire TCU community about the effects of violence and abuse on all students.
The training is based on existing programming from United Tribes Technical College, which employs mainstream tactics of education and prevention along with traditional healing tools. Most critically, it celebrates tribal communities’ courage, resilience and strength, the press release states.
“TCUs are catalysts for change in our tribal communities—making it only natural for these institutions to take the responsibility in ‘Restoring the Circle,’” said Carrie L. Billy, AIHEC president and CEO. “TCUs are leading efforts to preserve and revitalize our Native languages, develop innovative economic opportunities, improve community health, and protect our land.”
In addition to efforts by the TCUs, the BIA and BIE will help broaden outreach to tribal reservations and American Indian communities across the U.S.
For more information about the Restoring the Circle campaign, visit AIHEC’s website at www.aihec.org.