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Our History

American Indian and Alaska Native women suffer some of the highest rates of violence and murder in the United States, a crisis that has diminished the honored status of women and safety in tribal communities. In spite of the high rates of violence experienced by AI/AN persons, only a small percentage reached out for assistance to The Hotline at the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

In 2012, The Hotline began discussing this issue with staff from the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) a Native-led nonprofit organization dedicated to ending violence against Native women and children. Together, they developed a program concept for a Native hotline developed by and run by Native advocates to support tribal communities across the United States. With input from tribal leaders, a Native women’s council, domestic violence experts, and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, the two organizations began laying the groundwork to develop a Native-centered hotline staffed by advocates with a strong understanding of Native cultures, as well as issues of tribal sovereignty and law.

Their vision became a reality with the creation of the StrongHearts Native Helpline (StrongHearts) in March 2017, made possible by support from the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Verizon. StrongHearts is a culturally-appropriate, anonymous, confidential service dedicated to serving Native American survivors of domestic violence and concerned family members and friends. By dialing 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483), nationwide 24/7, callers can connect at no cost one-on-one with knowledgeable StrongHearts advocates who can provide lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable survivors to find safety and live lives free of abuse.

StrongHearts is a partnered effort, combining the technology and infrastructure of The Hotline with NIWRC’s expertise and community connections, as well as the trust of Native advocacy groups. StrongHearts staff serve on the NIWRC team.

Our Values

Mission Statement

We exist to restore power to Native Americans impacted by domestic, dating and sexual violence by weaving together a braid of safety, sovereignty and support.

Vision Statement

We envision a return to our traditional lifeways where our relatives are safe, violence is eradicated and sacredness is restored.

Land Acknowledgement

StrongHearts Native Helpline’s headquarters are located in the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area on the ancestral lands of the Sioux Santee (Eastern Dakota) Wahpekute (Waȟpékhute) peoples.


Values and Guiding Principles

These principles are based on Indigenous values and beliefs. Through them, we actively honor our ancestors with our life and work.

Culture
Indigenous culture is the heart of our existence. We connect with our Tribal Nations and honor their diversity.

Balance
We strive to create a culture that is rooted in traditional Indigenous ways and that considers all aspects of life where one’s mind, body and spirit are not pulled too strongly in any one direction. By maintaining a healthy balance our values can be expressed and lived positively.

Interrelatedness
We honor our connection to each other, to our ancestors, and to the earth. Our work is rooted in anti-oppression values and acknowledges that our words and actions have power to affect others. We are connected to those we serve and those striving to heal.

Humility
We practice a willingness to learn, even from lessons that come in difficult and non-traditional ways. We include others, validate their lived experiences, and help them on their paths with empathy.

Bravery
We value a willingness to face unique challenges and prejudices. We call upon our gifts and approach these challenges with mental and moral strength and courage.

Resilience
Our advocacy centers the resiliency of Indigenous survivors. Our ability to adapt in the face of adversity sustains us and our work as Indigenous peoples.

Trust
We have a duty to our ancestors and to future generations to practice integrity by being honest and honor our commitments. We create an environment where truth and honesty are valued.

OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Caroline Laporte, Chairperson

Descendant of Little River Band of Ottawa Indians

Caroline LaPorte is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Law (cum laude) and is an Associate Judge for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. She is an attorney/Judicial Advisor for the Seminole Tribe of Florida Tribal Court and adjunct instructor at the University of Miami, where she teaches Native and Indigenous studies. Previously, LaPorte was the Senior Native Affairs Policy Advisor for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) in D.C., and now returns to NIWRC as the first Director of its Tribal Safe Housing Center. Her work focuses on housing, human rights, children, firearms and criminal justice all within the gender-based violence framework. She serves on the American Bar Association's Victim’s Rights Task Force, co-chairs the Victim’s Committee for the Criminal Justice Section of the ABA, is a member of the Lenape Center’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force and helped start the National Working Group on Safe Housing for American Indians and Alaska Natives. LaPorte was named a Henry Bandier Fellow and was the Natasha Pettigrew Memorial Award Winner for her time as a fellow in the Children and Youth Law Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law.


Lenny Hayes, Vice Chairperson

Sisseton Wahpeton-Oyate

Lenny Hayes, MA, is the owner and operator of Tate Topa Consulting, LLC and is currently in private practice specializing in Marriage Family Therapy. He has extensive training in mental and chemical health issues that impact the Two-Spirit/Native LGBTQ and Native community. Hayes has traveled nationally and locally training and presenting on the issues that impact both the Two-Spirit/Native LGBTQ individual and community. These issues include the impact of historical and intergenerational trauma on this population, violence of all forms, child welfare issues, and the impact of sexual violence on men and boys which is a topic that is rarely discussed.

Hayes is the former Missing and Murdered Two-Spirit Project Assistant for Sovereign Bodies Institute. He is a 2020 graduate of the Human Trafficking Leadership Academy Cohort 5. He was selected to be a 2018 recipient of the Bonnie Heavy Runner Advocacy Award at the 16thNational Indian Nations Conference “Justice for Victims.” Additionally, Hayes was a nominee for the 2021 NIWRC Tillie Black Bear Award.”


Tami Truett Jerue, Treasurer

Anvik Tribe

Tamra (Tami) Truett Jerue currently lives in Fairbanks having moved from Anvik Alaska, a small Deg it tan Athabascancommunity on the Yukon River. Currently, Jerue serves as the Executive Director of the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center. She is the mother of four children and grandmother of five grandchildren. She has worked in the field of domestic violence and sexual assault and intersecting issues for the last 40 plus years in various capacities.

Her education includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, Community Psychology and Secondary Education. She has been involved with many non-profit boards over the years and has worked most of her professional life in rural Tribal Alaska in many fields such as Therapist, Sexual Assault Counselor, Teacher, Tribal Administrator, Indian Child Welfare Act Social Worker and Trainer.


Gwendolyn Packard, Secretary

hanktonwan Dakota

Gwendolyn Packard, Training and Technical Assistance Specialist, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, has worked for many years in Indian country, both at the national and tribal level. She has served as editor for six national Indian publications.In 1990 she was instrumental in founding the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS). Packard served as Executive Director for Morning Star House, an advocacy program that works with off-reservation Native women and children who are victims of domestic and sexual violence. She also served as Executive Director of the New Mexico Suicide Prevention Coalition and is founder and Co-Chair of Rain Cloud, the off-reservation behavioral health collaborative in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a survivor of domestic violence, a writer, a grassroots organizer and a community activist. She has three children and one granddog.

Our Partners

Member

StrongHearts Native Helpline is an active member of the National Hotline Consortium. The National Hotline Consortium was formed in 2015 by a group of leading national victim service and crisis intervention hotlines. The primary goals of the Consortium are to develop and model best practices for victim services and crisis response phone, chat, text, and email hotlines and to facilitate communication and coordination among these hotlines all in order to provide high-quality response to users of the services.

Violence in Indian Country

Many Native and non-Native domestic violence experts agree that the prevalence of violence in Indian Country is a modern effect of the historical trauma that our people continue to experience. The extent of domestic violence in tribal communities is particularly overwhelming.

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In The Community

Current press releases.
Media has the opportunity to save lives.
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More Information

Answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Current job opening descriptions and application.
Interested in learning more about supportive national organizations involved in domestic violence advocacy? Here are some helpful links.
Before colonization, abuse and domestic violence were rare in tribal communities.
Form for those who would like to be listed in our database.
Every October advocates and communities across Indian Country and the United States rally together to honor survivors of domestic violence and support abuse prevention.
Homicide is a leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native women.