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MISSION — A statewide listening tour made a stop on the Umatilla Indian reservation in April to gather data and stories of issues affecting women. The listening tour was conducted by the Women's Foundation of O r e gon (WFO) which is the only statewide organization dedicated to making Oregon a good state for women and girls, according to WFO's Executive Director Emily Evans. She said that out of other Oregon reservations who w ere contacted, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) were the only one able to participate in the tour. It also is the only Native American based community of their 12 stops. Roughly 25 tribal women in the community p a r t i c ip ated in t h e l i s t ening town hall meeting which was held at the Longhouse Annex. Upon entering, each woman was greeted by a WFO staff member who handed them a welcoming packet. On the wall was a paper board
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Local women of the Umatilla Indian reservation discuss mental health issues while at the Mission Longhouse durinth the Listening to Her Oregon tour
with ten topics such as "leadership", "time pressure", and "physical health". The women were given three stickers a nd asked to put a sticker under th e topics they feel need improvement in their community and the life of women and girls. The top issues with the most stickers were Education and Job training, Safety: Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Mental health, physical health and wellbeing, and leadership. There also was a listening booth in the WFO traveling RV. Women signed up to tell a short 30-to-60-second personal story of issues that they' ve faced in their community. According to Evans, they currently have close to 1,000 recorded stories from women who've attended the tour. In addition, there were surveys that the attendants completed. As the evening went on, women were divided into small groups where they could focus on in d i v i d ual topics and
express their concerns. "The Tribe is always talking about the children and taking care of the children but we don't invest in them," said Kathleen Peterson, a CTUIR member wh o was speaking on childcare and caregiving issues. "Having a new bowling alley is nice, but it would be nicer to have a childcare center." "The biggest thing with our Tribe is that we are in denial that this happens to our children," said Linda Sampson in regards to sexual assault and domestic violence issues. "We say we have a lot of counseling, but we really don't care. You can't solve sexual assault and violence with four counseling sessions." Modesta Minthorn, CTUIR Member talked about education and job training issues. "I went to college and got my Bachelors, came home [to the Umatilla Indian Reservation ] and there were no jobs for
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Confederated Umatilla Journal
'Having a new bowling alley is nice, but it would be nicer to have a childcare center.' me," she said. "I started working for a non-profit that worked with the Tribe. After six years I went back to school and got my Masters in Linguistics, still no job. So I went to the University of Oregon to work and after a year I got employed part time off a grant with the CTUIR language program ... Before that, I had two degrees with no job prospects on my own reservation and I asked myself what was the point of going to school." They were then asked to come up with solutions to the problems. Some of the solutions for child care and caregiving included investment in a foster home for adults, and a child center. One solution for sexual assault and domestic violence was to have ongoing women's support groups. Education and leadership solutions included the Tribal government getting more involved with youth and having Native art fairs that showcase successful Natives in acting, media, and other forms of art. T he next day, staff from th e W F O shared their findings from the night before. Some of them are as follows: • 100 p e r cent of wo men who a nswered the surveys said that they or someone they know has suffered from domestic violence and sexual assault • 67 p e r cent of women or someone they know suffered from mental health that negatively affected their lives • 48 p e r c e nt of wo men said that due to the lack of affordable high quality childcare there was an adverse effect on their family • 76 p e r cent said they have experienced discrimination based on gender • 71 p e rcent feel pretty safe in their community and 19 percent feel somewhat safe Although these are the initial findings, the official survey won't be out until the end of September. The WFO staff said that they weren't surprised by the results because many of the other communities they have visited had similar outcomes and when the survey is finished they will be able to compare the issues that Oregon women face compared to the rest of the states. "We have found thatOregon women vote more than Oregon men. Oregon women give more blood than Oregon men," said Ev ans. Overall, "Oregon w omen and girls are stepping up f o r Oregon. Now it's time for Oregon to step up for their women and girls."
The Confederated Umatilla Journal Monthly Print Edition For May 2016