Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

October 24, 2011

Media alert: Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota

Minnesota Indian Women Sexual Assault Coalition

Contact: Lonna Hunter, • 651/646-4800 or 651/442-3253
WHAT: Public release of the ground-breaking report
Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota
Based on personal interviews and stories of 105 Native women in the Twin Cities, Duluth, and Bemidji, this firstever study of prostitution and trafficking of Native women in Minnesota will be released by the Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition (MIWSAC) and Prostitution Research & Education. The report was produced with generous support from the Patrick and Aimee Butler Family Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, and Tides Foundation.

WHEN: Thursday, October 27

 2:00pm press conference with report authors Melissa Farley and Nicole Matthews (call-in number below)

 2:30pm public event with report authors and community leaders, honoring ceremony and reception

WHERE: William Mitchell College of Law Auditorium (Room 245) • 875 Summit Avenue, St. Paul

SPEAKERS: Report authors

 Melissa Farley, Director, Prostitution Research and Education, San Francisco Women's Centers

 Nicole Matthews, Executive Director, Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition (MIWSAC)

 Sarah Deer, Assistant Professor, William Mitchell College of Law

 Guadalupe Lopez, Membership and Outreach Coordinator, MIWSAC

 Christine Stark, co-editor of Not for Sale

 Eileen Hudon, researcher, writer, policy advocate, and MIWSAC member

Video message from US Senator Al Franken

Other speakers

 Suzanne Koepplinger, Executive Director, Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center

 Patty Wetterling, Program Director, MN Department of Health Sexual Violence Prevention Program

 Eric Janus, President and Dean, William Mitchell College of Law

Musicians: Sarah Curtiss, Oshkii Giizhik Singers; Drum Group, Mpls Council of Churches Division of Indian Work

BACKGROUND: Garden of Truth is the first study detailing the personal experiences of Native women who have been prostituted and trafficked in Minnesota. Following on the 2009 report, Shattered Hearts: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of American Indian Women and Girls in Minnesota by the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, and the 2008 Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment for the State of Minnesota by Advocates for Human Rights, the new Garden of Truth study provides powerful personal accounts of violence, poverty, survival, and strength by Native women themselves. The 105 women interviewed for the report describe extreme and frequent violence including child sexual abuse, rape, beatings, and traumatic brain injuries, with a majority experiencing symptoms of PTSD. 98% of the women have been homeless and 92% want to escape prostitution but believe they have no other options. The study authors stress that these women's strengths as well as their vulnerabilities must be seen in the context of a history of systematic harm to Native people, racism, poverty, and a lack of housing, healthcare, job, and educational opportunities.

MEDIA VISUALS: On display at the event will be the Honoring Survivors Shawls, colorful hand-made shawls created to honor all generations of survivors of sexual violence. Also present will be drummers and singers.

About the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition (MIWSAC)

MIWSAC is a statewide tribal coalition of individuals and organizations working to prevent and end sexual violence against Native women. MIWSAC was created in 2001 through funding from the US Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women, and is one of 22 tribal coalitions addressing gender violence in Native communities.

Garden of Truth Press Conference Call-in instructions

To participate in the 2:00 pm media conference via phone, dial:

Toll free: 800.566.2245

Toll call: 913.312.9372

Enter the following number when prompted: 035177#

If you experience any difficulties with the call-in procedure, please contact Lonna Hunter at 651.646.4800 or 651.442.3253

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