TRIBAL COURTS & MMIW
This project aims to generate a clear and thorough understanding of the scale and dynamics of cases of trafficked, missing, and murdered Native American women and children in Northwestern California, and design and implement a pilot blueprint for tribes to intervene in and prevent such cases. Though each law enforcement agency may have documentation of such cases in each of their respective jurisdictions, no such information exists in an accessible, comprehensive cross-jurisdictional data set. Moreover, many agencies lack thorough information, as much of this violence goes unreported and undocumented, and can fall through gaps in communication and bureaucracy. This project aims to identify those gaps and collect data on this violence, and create a path forward in empowering tribes to enact effective, data-driven policies to address trafficking and MMIWG in their regions.
ABOUT THE RESEARCHERS
This project is a collaboration between Chief Judge Abby Abinanti and the Yurok Tribal Court, SBI Partnering Scholar Blythe George, and SBI Executive Director Annita Lucchesi.
Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe on the North Coast of California, is the first Native American woman to pass the California bar exam. She established the first tribal-run clean slate program in the country to help members expunge criminal records, and focuses on keeping young people out of jail, in school and with their people. She has also served as Appellate Judge for the Colorado River Indian Tribe; Judge for the Hopi Tribal Court and Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Court; Chief Magistrate on the Court of Indian Offenses for the Hoopa Valley Tribal Court; and Tribal Courts Evaluator for the Indian Justice Center and the American Indian Justice Center.
Blythe George is a member of the Yurok Tribe, and she attends Harvard University as an Ashford Fellow. Blythe graduated from Dartmouth College in 2012 with a BA in Sociology, and in 2014, Blythe received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for her Masters’ project, where she examined the intersection of unemployment, gender, and crime on the Yurok and Hoopa Valley reservations, located in Northern California. For her dissertation, Blythe uses in-depth interviews and ethnographic observation on the Yurok and Hoopa Valley reservations to document the effects of prisoner re-entry on the reservation communities of Hoopa and Klamath. Blythe’s dissertation was awarded a 2018 NSF Sociology Program Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant, and has been supported by the Social Science Research Council’s Mellon Mays Initiatives, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, the Harvard University Native American Program, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Association for American Indian Affairs, and Indigenous Education, Inc.