July 1, 2015

Meeting highlights trafficking's horror

By Jerry W. Kram

It’s a difficult topic to talk about, said United States Senator Heidi Heitkamp as she met with nearly two dozen leaders of law enforcement agencies, domestic violence shelters, tribal courts and other community members at the Red Hall in Parshall on Saturday. Heitkamp brought international anti-human trafficking leader Cindy McCain, wife of Arizona Senator John McCain, to meet and listen to those who are the sharp point of the spear in combating the sex trade on the Fort Berthold Reservation.

"We know that sex and human trafficking are taking place on Fort Berthold," said Diane Johnson, Chief Judge of the MHA Nation Justice System. "It’s very hard because people are not coming forth and talking about it. We know that everything leads back to drugs, human trafficking, sex trafficking, crime – something like 98 percent of all the crimes committed on Fort Berthold are either directly or indirectly related to drugs. People are reluctant to say anything because they are afraid that they too may be subject to prosecution."

Many of the participants in the discussion told Heitkamp and McCain that the problems are far worse that many in the public realize. Gerald White, director of the Public Safety Commission; BIA Special Agent Michael White; Sadie Young Bird, director of the Fort Berthold Coalition Against Violence and Chalsey Snyder, who works with the TAT Boys and Girls Club and help draft the Three Affiliated Tribes sex trafficking ordinance, described what they knew about one case that was successfully prosecuted in 2014 after several years of investigation

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