Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Sexual abuse survivors use traditional healing to recover from trauma on Spirit Lake reservation: 2018 Alexia Foundation professional photography grant winner

On the Spirit Lake Sioux reservation in North Dakota, victims of recurrent sexual abuse turn to spiritual and traditional healing to overcome their pain. The majority of the sex crimes go unpunished, and tribal council authorities do not provide law enforcement or prosecute the offenders. Photographer Rena Effendi’s haunting portraits and interviews called “Spirit Lake” explore the effects of trauma and the cycle of abuse in a place where poverty, chronic unemployment, addiction, depression and suicide rates are startlingly high. The National Institute of Justice reports that 4 out of 5 Native American women experience violence in their lifetime, and more than half have experienced sexual violence.

Effendi is the $20,000 winner of the 2018 Alexia Foundation professional photography grant to continue her work. The Alexia Foundation, committed to supporting visual storytellers who educate and expose social injustice, has been awarding these grants to top professionals and students for more than 25 years. Each spring at New York’s Syracuse University, a panel of industry professionals considers scores of proposals in the highly competitive contest.


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