Navajo Nation Council Delegate Charlaine Tso, left, and Division of
Social Services Executive Director Deannah Neswood-Gishie, middle, gave
input at the Office on Violence Against Women 2019
Government-to-Government Tribal Consultation in New Buffalo, MI on
Aug. 21-22, 2019.
Published August 25, 2019
NEW BUFFALO, Mich. — Navajo Nation Council Delegate
Charlaine Tso provided testimony to the United States Department of
Justice Office on Violence Against Women at the Government-to-Government
Tribal Consultation on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019.
The consultation included two days of written and oral input from
tribal leaders and representatives of over 100 tribal nations.
“We state unequivocally our support for HR 1585, An Act to Reauthorize
the Violence Against Women Act, passed by the United States House of
Representatives. We implore the United States Senate to act and
reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act,” said Delegate
Joining the Department of Justice at the consultation was the U.S.
Departments of Health and Human Services and the Interior. The
departments hosted the consultation to receive Violence Against Women
Act input and recommendations to help improve the federal
response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault,
stalking, and sex trafficking crimes against American Indian and Alaska
Delegate Tso shared testimony about rates of violent crimes against
women, children and members of the LGBTQI and Two Spirit community in
and around the Navajo Nation on behalf of the Health, Education and
Human Services Committee of the Navajo Nation Council.
The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women held the
2019 Government-to-Government Tribal Consultation in New Buffalo, MI
Aug. 21-22, 2019. Council Delegate Charlaine Tso gave testimony from the
Health, Education and Human Services Committee.
“The testimony that will forever stay with me is an eight-year-old boy
coming to me, ‘Miss Council Delegate Tso, do you know when my mom’s
going to come back?’,” said Delegate Tso.
“His mother will not be present at his college graduation. That child
will not be able to introduce his children to their grandmother,” said
“The women in our tribe are held sacred. We protect them, we love them, we cherish them,” said Delegate Tso.
The Navajo Nation Council has been leading the Navajo Nation’s efforts
to address the issue of violence against women and the issue of missing
and murdered indigenous women and girls. Council Delegates Amber
Kanazbah Crotty, Nathaniel Brown and Charlaine Tso
have continuously reported that data and information on violence in
Navajo and Native American communities is under-supported or
“This consultation is a venue for change,” said Delegate Tso.
“I have Utah relatives in Salt Lake Area that go missing and there’s no
way that we can track them or help them. There’s no data available,”
said Delegate Tso.
“The Navajo Nation recommends funding for data collection systems, to
hire expert personnel who can collect, analyze and maintain and use data
for improving and for enhancing victim services,” said Delegate Tso.
Delegate Tso’s testimony also included information on violence against
LGBTQI and Two Spirit members of the Navajo Nation and statistics on
federal criminal and prosecution rates.
“A 2016 Diné College study on LGBTQI found one in five experienced
physical violence or sexual assault at least once in the last six
months. 38 percent have experienced threats of physical violence,” said
“In 2017, the Navajo police received a total of 13,636 calls for various
offenses, including domestic violence, sexual assault, rape and
homicide,” said Delegate Tso.
“Statistics nationwide indicate a lack of prosecution by the FBI of
domestic violence cases, including domestic violence and rape. In 2017,
the U.S. Department of Justice declined to prosecute more than a third
of cases referred to them from Indian Country,”
said Delegate Tso.
“In 2014, it was reported that 6,630 forceful rapes occurred resulting
only in 33 arrests. However, rapists were accountable at a rate of less
than 0.5 percent. Those who were incarcerated were never held for more
than 12 months,” said Delegate Tso.
Delegate Tso went on to recommend, on behalf of the Navajo Nation, that
the U.S. DOJ increase funds for capacity building and to implement the
Tribal Law and Order Act in Navajo Nation courts.
Delegate Tso’s testimony concluded with incidents of violence against Navajo LGBTQI, girls and women.
“23-year-old Ryan Shey Hoskie, 42-year-old Terri Benally, and
32-year-old Frederick Watson were three transgender Navajo Nation
members who were found beaten to death in Albuquerque, New Mexico in
January 2005, July 2009, and June 2009, respectively. The details
of each of their deaths remain unknown and no suspects were detained in
their slayings,” said Delegate Tso.
“11-year-old Ashlynn Mike was kidnapped with her nine-year-old brother
in Shiprock, New Mexico in May 2016. After a couple found Ashlynn’s
brother scared, walking along the side of the road, he was taken to the
Navajo Nation police department. Hours later,
when the Farmington police department was notified of the missing
child, it was clear no information had been shared. Eight hours after
Ashlynn went missing, an Amber Alert was finally issued at 2:30 AM,”
said Delegate Tso.
“26-year-old Amber Webster, a married mother of three, was murdered in
Florence, Kentucky in December 2018. Amber was employed as a
construction worker that had traveled out of state to provide income to
her family on the Navajo Nation. 32-year-old non-native
Jesse James brutally stabbed her to death while staying at the same
hotel as she was. The two had no prior interactions,” said Delegate Tso.
“We have to look out for each and every one of these individuals. They
are our children. They are our future. They need to be protected to the
fullest extent,” said Delegate Tso.
Delegate Tso thanked the tribal representatives, and federal agencies
and programs in attendance at the tribal consultation hearing.
The Navajo Nation Division of Social Services Executive Director Deannah
Neswood-Gishie also provided comments on behalf of the Office of
President and Vice President.
“Protecting Navajo women and children is critical to the future of the
Navajo Nation and to the health and wellbeing of Navajo families and
communities. On behalf of the Navajo Nation …, I formally invite you to
come to the Navajo Nation and conduct true government-to-government
consultation with the largest land-based federally recognized tribe,”
said Director Gishie.
Council Delegate Charlaine Tso is the Vice Chairperson of the Health,
Education and Human Services Committee of the 24th Navajo Nation
Council. Delegate Tso represents the Navajo chapters of Mexican Water,
Tółikan, Teesnospos, Aneth and Red Mesa.
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