Let’s Talk: Keeping Our Community Free from Violence

by Pfawnn Eskee, Yolanda Francisco-Nez and Alana Kindness

Members of the Utah Navajo Health System Behavioral Health Department, the Diné Women’s Forum, and the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault recently hosted a special roundtable discussion on ways to combat and eliminate violence in our communities.

UNHS Behavioral Health Director Rick Hendy and Pfawnn Eskee, UNHS CSW, welcomed those participating in the discussion. Perry Robinson, LTC and Medicine Man with UNHS Behavioral Health, offered a strong, beautiful Navajo prayer to open the event.

The program featured Charlietta Gray – creator of the Facebook page ‘Amber Alert Navajo Nation-WIDE’ (with over 20,000 friends) and Gina Lopez – Victim Advocate Program Director from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe –  both of whom spoke to the group. DeLeana OtherBull, Director of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, talked about the excellent work her group is doing with Native youth.

Yolanda Francisco-Nez, Chair Emeritus from the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, facilitated a discussion with approximately twenty participants from the community.     Community  members, including kids, youth, teachers, health care workers, emergency management staff, masani’s and others attended and shared ways we can engage to form safe communities by being proactive before harm occurs.

“Engaging to end violence against women and girls seemed to be the theme of the night, along with other topics,” Eskee explained. “Empowering communities to consider ways we can each take responsibility, and provide a safe community for children, is important for the people of Montezuma Creek.”

A delicious meal of pulled pork sandwiches was provided by Susan Hendy, of UNHS. Hendy also provided fresh vegetables  from her garden and her own special zucchini bread! It was the perfect ending to a great dialogue.

Diné Women’s Forum and the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault appreciates the invitation to visit, learn and converse with local Utah Navajo communities. There are so many beautiful, committed people living in Montezuma Creek. The community in Monument Valley has also invited us to host a similar discussion there. Stay tuned for more information.

A special thanks to the Utah Navajo Health System, Diné Women’s Forum, and the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Utah Crime Victim Reparations for the brochures that were provided, Utah Prevent Child Abuse, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Parents Empowered for their support.

For more information visit, www.dinewomen4change , org,www.unhsinc.org , www.ucasa.org , https://justice.utah.gov/Crme/, https://pcautah.org/, http://www.missingkids.com.

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