The Commission of Indian Affairs (NCCIA) in partnership with the North Carolina Council for Women & Youth Involvement (NCCFWYI) request funding to increase awareness and identification of Native victims of trafficking, strengthen community resources to serve survivors of trafficking, and enhance NCCFWYI's ongoing Human Trafficking media campaign to focus on violence against Native women and children. The proposed project will target five rural counties with large Native populations: Halifax County, Bladen County, County, Columbus Person County, Robeson County, and Sampson County, home to the Lumbee, Sappony, Haliwa-Saponi, and Waccamaw-Siouan tribes.
With a Native population totaling 122,000 persons, North Carolina represents the largest concentration of Indigenous communities east of the Mississippi. The Native communities in the five target counties each experience high rates of poverty, suffering from histories of racist and colonial violence and chronic underfunding, partially due to lack of federal tribal recognition for any of the four tribes. Gender-based violence in the region has also reached the point of crisis, leading to Governor Roy Cooper's proclamation making May 5, 2020 a day of"Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women," calling attention to the more than 90 open cases of missing and murdered Native women in North Carolina in the past 25 years.
These Native communities are thus very susceptible to trafficking. While there is limited information to accurately assess the scope of the problem, existing data tells a dire tale. In 2018-2019, state funded DV/SA agencies in the 5 target counties recorded serving only 14 Native persons and 6 identified victims of trafficking of any racial group. In fact, Halifax County and Person County recorded serving zero individuals who matched either descriptor.
Accordingly, efforts to address human trafficking in these communities must begin with education and awareness around recognizing and identifying victims of trafficking. To do this, NCCFWYI, NCCIA, and a Native consultant will collaborate on providing anti-trafficking trainings, centered and grounded in Native experiences of trafficking, to community stakeholders most likely to engage with survivors, including law enforcement, hospitals, and local DV /SA agencies. Particular attention will be paid to cultural competency among local law enforcement who are known to engage in such harmful practices as relying on racial stereotypes to identify Native victims of crime.
Furthermore, NCCFWYI will expand and enhance its ongoing Human Trafficking outreach to disseminate information about violence against Native women and children in these communities. NCCFWYI and NCCIA will collaborate with local Tribal Offices to identify community knowledge gaps and offer community-facing trainings on Human Trafficking in rural and Native communities.