Native women lead push for human trafficking law on reservation

Chalsey Snyder, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, is interviewed for the Arming Sisters documentary about violence against Native women. Photo from Arming Sisters

Native women on the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in North Dakota led the push for what's being called the first comprehensive human trafficking law in Indian Country.

The advocates became alarmed by the trafficking of Native women and girls following an explosion of energy development in and around the Fort Berthold Reservation. After one of their own citizens, Dustin J. Morsette, was sentenced to 45 years for forcing women and girls into the sex trade, they came together and started drafting the law.

"Someone was actually marking these young 13-year-old girls," Chalsey Snyder, a former tribal court clerk who worked on the effort, told Marie Claire of the young victims seen on the reservation.

The result was Loren's Law -- named for Loren Whitehorn, a behavioral health specialist for the tribe who was part of the effort before she died in a car accident in May 2013. Advocates secured passage of the package last December.

"I am impressed that a tribal government is passing a law like this," Sarah Deer, an attorney and professor who won a MacArthur Foundation genius grant for her efforts to prevent violence against Native women, told Marie Claire. "Even more so because it was championed by a grassroots group of Native women coming together."

Get the Story:
Sex Trafficking on the Reservation: One Native American Nation's Struggle Against the Trade (Marie Claire 9/22)

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