Last week we reported that Sam Hirsch of the US Attorney General’s office announced in a private meeting that a lawsuit may be filed against VAWA. The Violence Against Women Act had been passed each year since its introduction in 1994, until provisions protecting Native American women were introduced last year. The bill was supported by many politicians of both parties, but some representatives refused to vote it back into law unless the tribal provisions were drastically changed. After an unpopular attempt to reword the language, VAWA passed with full tribal provisions early this year.
As previously reported, several groups and individuals associated with the oil company Koch Industries, Inc. have been protesting the bill, claiming that holding rapists accountable to the Native reservations they commit crimes on is unconstitutional. This has caused some readers to question what the motives of these anti-VAWA activists are.
Sources now claim that the oil workers coming into Native American territories are responsible for the upsurge of rape in those areas.
Bloomberg has reported that tightly-packed communities of oil workers, also known as “man camps,” have been cropping up in fracking sites such as Williston, North Dakota as of 2011. Violent crime rose significantly in Williston during that year, even bringing the town’s violent crime rate from below the US average to above it. CNBC confirms that Williston is a major hotspot for oil workers during today’s oil boom.
A partial list of ways in which the oil boom has raised local crime rates comes from an additional CNBC article:
It’s not just housing and the cold that worries the mayor and the local population. With the billions of oil company investment dollars and thousands of new workers (mostly men), Williston is now dealing with stabbings, rape and even prostitution.
The police force is under-staffed and overwhelmed.
From 2009 to 2010, calls into the police department have increased 250 percent.
“We’ve been getting assault calls throughout the day,” [police officer Travis] Martinson said. “We’ve been getting DUIs on the day shift. That wasn’t normal a year ago.”
Fort McMurray is a community in Canada so known for its part in the oil boom that Canadian news outlets use it to make a point.
The boom — which some say is turning Fort Nelson into B.C.’s own Fort McMurray —
Mid-2011, there was widespread community concern in Fort McMurray about the increase in the sexual slavery of young girls. Many sources, such as McClatchy and Earth Island Journal, have noticed these patterns beginning to emerge in North Dakota and other fracking sites within the United States. From the latter article:
Cedar Gillette, a domestic violence counselor in New Town on the Ft. Berthold Reservation… thinks that the increase in domestic violence mostly stems from…the privileged status of the oil and gas industry. “Oil company workers are not accountable to the community,” argues Gillette. “They can treat people however they want because they think they are untouchable.” Women are made vulnerable in these circumstances. She said that sometimes it takes police hours to reach victims because they don’t know where the man camps are.
The hashtag #savevawa will be used in conjunction with this series of investigative reports. To keep informed of new developments, please follow Save Wįyąbi Project, SWP Co-founder Lauren Chief Elk, and SWP Resident Journalist Rachel Knight on Twitter.