Spirit Lake Nation takes good, long look at domestic issues

Louise Oleson Journal Managing Editor
Melissa Merrick introduces speaker Joan Halvorson. Halvorson is an FBI Victim Witness Advocate.

It was a gathering of social workers, judges, people in law enforcement and domestic violence workers who met for two days at the Spirit Lake Casino for a conference on the effects of violence in homes and community.

The Awareness and Healing Conference featured presentations by a wide range of experts. It started at 9 a.m. on Thursday with a welcome by event organizers, Melissa Merrick who works in Victim Assistance for the Spirit Lake Nation and Shirley Cain, Chief Judge for the Spirit Lake Tribal Court.

Linda Thompson from the First Nations Women’s Alliance gave the first presentation titled “Partner Violence.”

Then Marlin Mousseau, Oglala Lakota, spoke. His topic was “Testimony of a batterer.”

He continued in the afternoon with a discussion on the impact of written law and its effects on violence against women.

Then Laron Greywater presented. He is a BIA police officer and he spoke about domestic violence and law enforcement.

The first day of the conference wrapped up with Ida Downwind speaking about healing and Codi Malnourie and Jayme Smith speaking about the services provided by Spirit Lake Victim Assistance.

Day two started with a presentation on child protection process with Mark Little Owl, Tribal Social Services and Judge Cain, family violence, family therapy, federal services to victims from an FBI Victim Witness Advocate, recovery and wellness services and ended with Frank de la Paz and “Healing our Men,” about the Wica Agli process.

The intent of the conference was to address the issues many face on the reservation and to begin the healing process for a better life for all. At the conference end those who remained gathered in a circle around the rising smoke from a smudge and prayed for healing, wellness and an end to violence against women and families.