One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. This two-part series tells the story behind this shocking statistic — a story of both human tragedy and systematic failure of criminal justice on and off of reservations. This series led to the reopening of a sexual assault case, Congressional hearings, and the launching of a website to manage donations to help sexual assault victims living in the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Originally aired on NPR on July 25 and 26, 2007.
Ron His Horse Is Thunder, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, says that as long as the tribe must depend on the federal government to police and prosecute people on their own land, anyone who comes to Standing Rock may well be able to rape or assault women and get away with it.
One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. This two-part series tells the story behind this shocking statistic — a story of both human tragedy and systematic failure of criminal justice on and off of reservations. This series led to the reopening of a sexual assault case, Congressional hearings, and the launching of a website to manage donations to help sexual assault victims living in the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Part One: Rape Cases on Indian Lands go Uninvestigated
Laura Sullivan reports from Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on the story of Leslie Ironroad. Five years ago, Ironroad was brutally beaten and raped. Before slipping into a coma and dying, she managed to scratch out a statement for a Bureau of Indian Affairs policeman who came to question her in the hospital. Yet her rape and murder remained uninvestigated until this story was aired on NPR. As Sullivan reports, Ironroad’s story is typical rather than exceptional.
Part Two: Legal Hurdles Stall Rape Cases on Native Lands
Sullivan investigates the legal system that has failed to respond to sexual assault cases like Leslie Ironroad’s. She finds a convoluted system: tribal police can’t charge non-Indians with crimes, while the US Attorney’s office, which can, rarely does. The result is what one tribal police chief calls “almost a lawless community.”
Laura Sullivan has been on NPR's national desk since December of 2004. During her tenure, she has covered crime and punishment issues for “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” “Day to Day” and other NPR programs. Sullivan's 2006 news series “Life in Solitary Confinement,” which examined the state of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, received two honors: the 2006 Gracie Award for "Outstanding News Series" and the 2007 Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize.
Amy Walters is a field producer for NPR’s national desk based in Los Angeles. She has spent her entire professional career at NPR, initially as an intern for the network’s Middle East bureau. Since then, she has worked on almost every NPR news magazine including a two-year stint with “All Things Considered.” There she was part of the show’s award-winning coverage of September 11, 2001.
Maria Godoy is an editor with NPR's digital news division, where she oversees national news coverage. From the national debate over gay marriage, to the downfall of GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, to a colorful virtual journey with an aerial photographer, Maria uses a mix of formats — text, images, audio, video and interactive Web tools — to tell news and feature stories online. She was part of the NPR news teams that won the 2007 Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for Excellence in Reporting on Drug and Alcohol Issues and the 33rd annual Gracie Award from the American Women in Radio & Television.