Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Julia Liss

Reader 2

Bill Anthes

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Rights Information

© 2018 Martha A Bono


The sexual assault and gendered violence Native American women face has started to garner attention from politicians, newspapers, and Hollywood producers. Most of today's discourse, however, ignores history. My historical analysis reveals how sexual violence against Indigenous women has been institutionalized since the very first days of colonization, and how these institutions ensured gendered violence would endure over time. First, I analyze how gender roles within Indigenous communities, specifically the Cherokee, led to Native women's subjugation and enabled intracommunal violence. Next, I examine particular federal Indian policies that have created a complex system of jurisdictional conflict that prevents tribal governments from addressing sexual assault in their communities. Finally, I bring in Native women's perspectives through creative forms, like fiction and art. These creative forms engage with history in a way that helps complete the historical account. In examining history and Native women's creative forms, I hope to illuminate how historical institutions continue to operate today, and how that conclusion will become the base of a decolonized future.