Everyone knew the local elder who’d molested and raped his daughters and granddaughters for decades until he was arrested for touching another family’s girls; after four years in jail and another half dozen or so at a cabin downriver, he was back on the village tribal council. One of Geneva’s great aunts was molested and raped by an uncle for years; dozens of years later, the aunt’s grown daughter told her that the same uncle had molested her, too. Sometimes people pressed charges; most of the time, though, nothing happened. “These perverts travel from village to village, from potlatches to dances,” Geneva says. “And then they get drunk and you don’t know what they’re going to do.”…A local woman was gang raped until she could “barely walk.” A young boy was sexually assaulted by an older man and later killed himself. Tribal elders who command respect, but whose behavior doesn’t. “I’m still young and I’m already sick of it,” she said. “It’s happening in his house, in her house, even in your own bed.”
In its short history as a state, Alaska has earned an unnerving epithet: It is the rape capital of the U.S. At nearly 80 rapes per 100,000, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, Alaska’s rape rate is almost three times the national average; for child sexual assault, it’s nearly six times. And, according to the 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey, the most comprehensive data to date, 59 percent of Alaskan women have been victims of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, or both…a survey from 2006 that analyzed law enforcement data in Anchorage found Alaska Native women 9.7 times more likely than other Alaskan women to be victims of sexual assault.
In a state where hundreds of roadless communities are scattered across hundreds of thousands of miles, and where the storied rates of violence against women can hit 100 percent in some villages, silence is the norm, and violence is almost expected. Says detective Vandervalk, “You’ll get a Native girl who says, ‘My mom always tells me to wear two pairs of jeans at night to slow him down.’”"
Rape Culture in the Alaskan Wilderness
we often talk about settler-perpetrated violence, and we should…but we have a sickness in our communities, that needs to be addressed. as the article points out, it does have roots in settler violence (boarding schools, colonial rape culture, etc), but acknowledging that doesn’t automatically bring healing or change. sexual violence is not traditional, but it is rapidly becoming a tradition passed down—some families are now at 3, 4, 5 generations of violence. this has to end. our survival—culturally and physically—depends on us learning to address the violence we perpetrate against one another.