Alaska will have a vocal advocate on a federal task force that helps shape research into violence against Alaska Native and Native American women.
Catherine Edwards, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s sixth vice president and co-chair of Tlingit and Haida’s Violence Against Women Task Force, was recently approved by U.S. Attorney General William Barr to serve on the Task Force on Research on Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women.
“I was more than happy to be this voice,” Edwards said from Tacoma in a video interview.
The task force, sometimes called the Section 904 Task Force, was authorized by the federal Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act and established in 2008. It advises the Department of Justice National Institute of Justice program’s research agenda, according to the Department of Justice.
Task force members are expected to attend one-to-two-day meetings, be prepared to discuss materials distributed in advance of each meeting and to draft written recommendations and reports, according to the Office of Violence Against Women’s call for nominations to the task force. Edwards said the first meeting she will participate in will be virtual.
Edwards said that without the work of Tlingit and Haida’s Violence Against Women Task Force she would not be in a position to serve on the federal task force.
“I’m the one who got appointed, but it’s their work that I bring with me,” Edwards said.
Edwards said Tlingit and Haida is often at the table with federal entities and is proactive whether the issue is violence against women, transboundary issues, salmon or marine mammals. She said Tlingit and Haida makes sure not only that tribal citizens have their voices heard but that agencies are mindful of the hundreds of other federally recognized tribes in Alaska.
During Edwards’ appointment she hopes to encourage consideration of Indigenous ideas for how to solve problems within Indigenous communities and to move toward using existing data to realize programs to mitigate cyclical violence in Alaskan communities.
“We need to get past the research and the studies and really put some things into actions so that we can really mitigate the problem,” Edwards said. “This is not about the data, this is about you taking care of this epidemic, this pandemic in our community. This is a real-life problem, not just some numbers.”
Edwards’ selection was warmly welcomed by Tlingit and Haida President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson.
“As co-chair for Tlingit and Haida’s Violence Against Women Task Force and with her extensive work in domestic violence, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and drug prevention programs, Catherine will be an invaluable asset to this federal advisory committee,” Peterson said in a news release. “It’s important that we do everything we can to address violence against Indigenous women to protect future generations. With Catherine’s broad range of violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women knowledge, I have full faith that she will be instrumental in representing the views and interests of not only Tlingit and Haida, but all Indigenous women.”
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt