A citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, Deer has documented in academic scholarship the historical and ideological underpinnings of the failure to adequately protect victims of physical and sexual abuse in Indian Country, and she has worked with grassroots and national organizations attempting to navigate the complex legal and bureaucratic hurdles facing Native victims of violence. This work has allowed her to mediate between sectors within Native communities who disagree on the appropriate role of the U.S. legal system on reservations and on how to most effectively respond to the issue of violence against women. In spearheading a 2007 Amnesty International report, Maze of Injustice, Deer reframed the problem of sexual violence in Indian Country as an international human rights issue. In addition, she brought Native American leaders, health specialists, and women’s advocates together around the intersection between violence against women and tribal governance, thereby launching widespread efforts to reform federal policies that interfere with the ability of tribes to prosecute offenders.
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