A mural at the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation

little victims

The federal government is responsible for investigating and prosecuting child sexual abuse in Indian Country. But not until the last decade has it been required to publicly disclose what happens to those cases — disclosures that suggest many are falling through the cracks.

Pine Ridge Reservation horses

Chapter 1

Little victims everywhere

Child sexual abuse is a scourge on Indigenous communities in North America. Some experts estimate it could impact as many as half of all children.

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old wooden chair in front of wood building

Chapter 2

The federal trust: ‘no justice, just unfairness’

Federal investigators and prosecutors are responsible for child sexual abuse cases in Indian Country. But as Christine Benally knows all too well, cases fall through the cracks.

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view of a Window Rock

Chapter 3

Tribal law and disorder

Tribal courts have limited authority to hold child molesters accountable, and tribal police currently lack sufficient resources to properly investigate cases.

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sunset at Pine Ridge Reservation field

Chapter 4

Pathways to justice

In the void between the federal government’s handling of major crimes and Native Americans’ limited judicial authority, tribes are forging their own pathways to healing and justice.

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Pine Ridge Reservation Sunset

Moon & Sun

A centuries-old trauma

Experts say intergenerational trauma, dating to the colonization of North America, adds to the problem of child sexual abuse in Indian Country.

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Brendon Derr, Leilani Fitzpatrick, Rylee Kirk, McKenna Leavens, Anne Mickey, Allison Vaughn


Rachel Gold, Grace Oldham

Data analysis

Brendon Derr, Rachel Gold, Grace Oldham


Anne Mickey


Isaac Stone Simonelli, Brendon Derr, Allison Vaughn, Rylee Kirk

Project editors

Maud Beelman, Lauren Mucciolo

Data editor

Sarah Cohen

Copy editor

Ian McGibboney

Special thanks to Gregg Leslie, executive director, and Evan Stele of the First Amendment Clinic at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.