On Thursday, the Kaw Nation Domestic Violence Program celebrated its advent with the 30 Years Restoring the Balance of Justice at the Kaw Nation Tribal Court, coinciding with National Crime Victims Rights Week.
KNDVP Advocate Whitney LeGrand introduced the program.
“In 2013, Kaw Nation was awarded a CTAS (Combined Tribal Assistance Solicitation) grant funding to build a new Tribal Court program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault with specialty judges and staff taking on the complex cases as often arises as a result of these crimes. We have the program that is providing legal assistance to tribal and non-tribal members, and then we have direct services to clients, such as transportation and rental assistance and things like that, if need be. What we envision is both the programs being able to refer clients back and forth so that they have a comprehensive way to obtain services,” LeGrand said.
In addition to rental assistance and transportation, direct services include groceries, education and clothing.
Indian Child Welfare Case Worker Roger Sober explained how the tribe helps families find legal assistance.
“One of the things that holds us up with protecting our children or families or victims of domestic violence is trying to find an attorney, and that’s one of the services that Kaw Nation tries to provide,” he said.
Advocate Elyse File put the program in perspective for those too young to remember the environment that existed before the Victims of Crime Act was passed in 1984.
“Fifty years ago, there was no Crime Victims Week, no crime victims assistance, no special advocates, no crime victims/sexual abuse programs, no special courts, no access to counselors or therapy. Today, because of the services you offer, that nine-year-old girl would have access to the special advocates who would link her with services, who would assist her family, would have a court system that would listen to the family and to the victim,” File said.
LeGrand and Kaw Language Director David Kaufman recited a poem titled “Abuse,” with LeGrand reading it in English and Kaufman reading it in Kaw.
The domestic violence program is located at 301 South Main Street in Newkirk and can be contacted at (580) 362-1098.