Book Review: Silent Victims: Hate Crimes against Native Americans by Barbara Perry

Barbara Perry. Silent Victims: Hate Crimes against Native Americans. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2008. 176 pp, ISBN 978-0-8165-2596-6.

Reviewed by Robyn Bourgeois
Published on H-Genocide (April, 2012)
Commissioned by Elisa G. von Joeden-Forgey

“Racism is commonplace in the lives of the Native communities.
It is almost like the sky. It is always there, right above everything that
goes on, influencing your mood and your day, bearing down on you
and inescapable.”–a Wisconsin Native woman (p. 81)[1]

In Canada, it is estimated that over five hundred Native women and girls have gone missing and/or been murdered across the country over the last thirty years.[2] As Amnesty International argues, the social and economic marginalization of Indigenous women, along with a history of government policies have torn apart Indigenous families and communities, and have pushed a disproportionate number of Indigenous women into dangerous situations that include extreme poverty, homelessness, and prostitution.  “The resulting vulnerability of Indigenous women” in Canada “has been exploited by Indigenous and non-Indigenous men to carry out acts of extreme violence and brutality against them.” The everyday violence experienced by Native women and girls in Canada is not a new concern–indeed, the Amnesty report discusses how Indigenous women’s organizations, government commissions, and United Nations human rights bodies have all called on Canadian officials to address the marginalization of Native women, and to ensure that their rights and safety are respected by Canadian police and courts. “Sadly,” Amnesty writes, “fundamental measures that could help reduce the risk of violence to Indigenous women remain unimplemented”–and violence continues to be an all too normal reality for Native women and girls in this country.[3]

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