In this January 2022 episode, we delve into the world of human trafficking–sex trafficking to be precise and how this affects Indigenous communities. Based on statements from the National Congress of American Indians, rates for Indigenous Peoples being sold into sex trafficking here in the US are high, however, there is little to no hard data for this horrific industry and Indigenous involvement in it. Guests on this episode shed some light on why this is happening, how to recognize it, and what Indigenous folks are doing to take this issue on themselves as the government is doing next to nothing in our communities.
Stephanie Olson, Dr. Colette Yellow Robe, and Sunrose Ironshell are all leaders and educators in this realm in different ways and they are taking big steps to stop sex trafficking in the midwest. Stephanie Olson is the CEO of the Set Me Free Project, which brings prevention education to youth and families to stop trafficking before it starts. Dr. Colette Yellow Robe is a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is helping to lead the implementation of a grant for Indigenous-led Research on Sex Trafficking among Native Americans in the Northern Great Plains. Sunrose Ironshell is a grassroots leader and teacher who has spoken and organized a lot on the MMIR crisis and is currently promoting a documentary she is featured in called, Women of the White Buffalo.
Stephanie Olson is a speaker, an author, and the CEO of The Set Me Free Project and holds a degree in Psychology. Her experience includes seven years of curriculum writing and development for women experiencing domestic violence, homelessness, and alcohol and drug addictions; Ten years of educating women in the area of empowerment and intrinsic value; Nine years of educating youth ages 11-18 in healthy relationships, the dangers of human trafficking, and social media safety. Stephanie has had extensive training, research, and study of human trafficking prevention education and social media safety. She is a sought-after speaker on women, youth, human trafficking, and social media safety while leading The Set Me Free Project to help prevent youth and young adults from personally experiencing trafficking.
More in the Set Me Free Project: https://www.setmefreeproject.net/
Colette M. Yellow Robe, Ph.D. is an enrolled citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana who grew up on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska. She advocates and implements concrete changes, often in collaborative projects as a co-creator on research, teaching, and community projects. Her scholarly activism is often devoted to, and not limited to Native American education, epistemologies, Anti-racism Pedagogies, and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) global movement. Her life’s journey is to actively engage the long-standing, systemic structures that do not support diversity, inclusivity, and equity. Dr. Yellow Robe is honored to serve in various leadership roles and policy advising that uplift past, present and future Indigenous voices. The continuous imagining of possibilities and a commitment to center cultural practices for Indigenous peoples keeps her going and it is her great honor and privilege to serve as a proud mother to two amazing sons, Chase and Mason.
More information on Dr. Yellow Robe’s new research: https://cyfs.unl.edu/research-network/research-projects/project?id=8d521f13afecf99f3b88eb12e8d3693b
Sunrose Ironshell, is an artist, activist, poet, and teacher who fights every day to help her community on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, and all over the US, remember the Lakota ways in a world that wants them to forget. She is featured along with 8 other Lakota women in the documentary, Women of the Whtie Buffalo, which covers the issues faced by modern-day Indigenous communities–such as the MMIR crisis, which is linked to human trafficking. As said by the filmmaker, “The women featured in Women of the White Buffalo have been compelled to use their voices and many gifts in order to shift the consciousness of all those whose lives they touch. They will not be silenced. Their wisdom is essential to our survival.
More on Women of the White Buffalo: https://womenofthewhitebuffalo.com/