September 26, 2022

Wyden, Merkley: More than $1.6 Million to Oregon Tribes to Address Sexual Violence

Klamath, Siletz & Columbia River tribal organizations to benefit

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that three Oregon tribal organizations will receive a combined more than $1.6 million from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) to continue to provide victim and intervention services after sexual violence on tribal land.

“Addressing the atrocity of sexual violence on tribal land couldn’t be more urgent,” Wyden said. “I am gratified to see tribal governments getting more resources to build even stronger services to victims of sexual violence, especially reaffirming tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators. Native Americans are experiencing sexual assault at twice the rate of any other racial group. More needs to be done at every level to prevent such violence, and I will not stop fighting so that victims can get the support and protection they deserve as they heal and seek accountability for their attackers.”

“Tribal communities in Oregon are facing disproportionate rates of sexual violence. We must do everything in our power to protect people from sexual assault and abuse, and provide crucial resources to support these efforts,” Merkley said.“This funding to the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and the Klamath Tribes will help provide Tribal governments with the tools they need to respond to sexual assault and abuse cases, and ensure perpetrators are held accountable.”

The OVW grants provide funding and resources for tribal governments to respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, and stalking in their communities. These grant funds will be allocated as follows:

1.      The Klamath Tribes: $447,256 for criminal justice system programs ensure that victims find safety and justice and that non-Indians who commit sex crimes on tribal lands are held accountable.

2.      Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission: $650,617 for culturally competent victim services to prevent, address and adjudicate sexual violence.

3.      The Confederated Tribes of the Siletz: $525,000 to create, maintain, and expand sustainable Tribal sexual assault services.

“We are very appreciative of the grant funds,” Siletz Tribal Chair Delores Pigsley said. “VAWA has been underfunded since its inception. The tribe will be more proactive in our assistance for our members. Thank you Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley for recognizing the needs of the tribes.”

“Native people who live and fish along the Columbia River face many social challenges, a situation that is unfortunately common throughout Indian Country,” said Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Executive Director Aja DeCoteau. “This funding will allow us to continue providing victims of sexual violence with essential supportive services and culturally-informed prevention programs that help support stronger, healthier, and safer communities. We appreciate Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley for their work to secure funding for this important and much-needed program.”

“This Grant will provide for an immediate response to domestic violence and engage Tribal and local law enforcement resources," said Chief Judge Patricia Davis, Klamath Tribal Courts. "It will provide for a cohesive response and address gaps in the delivery of services.  Thank you, Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley for your assistance in meeting the needs of the members of Klamath Tribes.”