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Forum staff reports, Published September 11 2010

Dorgan visits YWCA Cass Clay in Fargo to meet with Native American women

FARGO – U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan visited the YWCA Cass Clay to meet with Native American women receiving services at the YWCA emergency shelter and transitional housing programs.

Of the 66 women and children served at the YWCA Emergency Shelter, 23 percent are Native American, according to a news release from YWCA Cass Clay. Over the last three years, Native American women and children residing in the shelter comprised 25 percent of the total population served; 54 percent of those seeking services did so because of domestic violence.

Fifteen percent of the women and children currently served in the YWCA Transitional Housing programs are Native American.

Native American residents in Fargo, Moorhead, Cass and Clay counties comprise between 1.1 and 1.9 percent of the entire population, according to the demographic information available from the city of Fargo, city of Moorhead and Cass and Clay counties, the release stated.

YWCA officials told Dorgan, D-N.D., about their concerns over the disparity in the number of Native American women and children being served by the agency compared to the population of Native American citizens in the Cass-Clay community.

“I’m really proud of the work the YWCA is doing to help young women who are going through a real rough spot in their lives,” Dorgan stated in the release. “It’s a very important effort, and it makes a real difference in their lives. I am particularly pleased to see the YWCA’s outreach to Native American women, who are targets of violent crime at rates that are simply unacceptable. This effort will not only help women build better lives, but it will also actually save lives.”

Erin Prochnow, YWCA executive director said, thanked Dorgan for his advocacy for Native American issues, including recent passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. Dorgan introduced the law to address the high crime rates in Indian Country, the release stated. The Department of Justice and Centers for Disease Control report that more than one in three American Indian and Alaska native women will be raped in their lifetimes, and two in five will face domestic or partner violence.

Dorgan has been an advocate for the Violence Against Women Act, including the U.S. Department of Justice Transitional Housing programs the YWCA operates locally. The YWCA Cass Clay Emergency Shelter is the largest shelter serving women and children in the state of North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.