The Danger of Strangers, something every parent regrettably should have to teach their children about.
The murder of Ashlynne Mike of the Dineh speaks to this, but it also speaks to something more – that she was sexually assaulted and murdered by a member of her own tribe.
A twenty seven year old man, Tom Begaye, who wanted to have sex with an eleven year old girl.
Eleven years old, think about that for a moment.
Sexual predation on the rez has become epidemic, prompting the need to instruct children that they also need to be wary of strangers within their own nation, and that’s a sad thing, more than that an aberration lacking historical context.
The reality is as nations and people we are no longer who we used to be, and I understand saying so will anger some, but crime statistics on the rez and in our urban communities cannot be denied.
When it comes to crimes such as this I would without hesitation support adopting a policy of turning the perpetrator over to the families of their victims and let them deliver whatever punishment they deem appropriate.
This kind of predation was introduced to the nations by the Catholic church and boarding schools where sexual and physical abuse were the norm.
Colonization contributed as well in the breakdown of the family structure and the marginalizing of women – and like it or not the American Indian Movement was also a contributor with the examples they set.
It isn’t enough for parents or nations to talk about traditional values and customs if they themselves don’t adhere to them, if they don’t provide the example.
Every rez in this country needs to be cleaned up when it comes to their communities and the bottom line is no one is going to do it if we don’t do it ourselves.
The nations ceded land, not our inherent right to a decent life, not the security of our communities regardless of who threatens them, nor the welfare of our children and women, not our dignity or integrity.
People need to stand up and take back what is their’s – they need to adopt a zero tolerance against drugs, alcohol abuse, gangs, sexual predation, and anything that undermines the security and traditional values of their communities.
They need to become “the people” again – and they need to do so proactively.
The murder of Ashlynne Mike is unacceptable, a wound her mother and father will never completely overcome, it is also a wound her extended family, friends, community, and nation will experience and should unite behind to insure it will never happen again.
I don’t know Tom Begaye’s story, but I’m sure a part of it will be he is a victim in his own right of the national ndn policy, and I won’t be surprised if he has a history of drugs and alcohol – but being a victim does’t bestow the right to victimize others.
It doesn’t bestow the right to target and murder an eleven year old girl.
I can’t imagine what this family is going through now, or any family faced with the same circumstance and the hearts of all our nations goes out to them.