Why protesters at the Supreme Court want you to boycott Dollar General.

In 2003, a teenage boy accused his manager at a Dollar General store of sexually assaulting him at work.

The boy, who is known as John Doe to protect his identity, is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

After the U.S. attorney's office declined to press charges against Dollar General, John Doe and his family ended up suing Dollar General, as the Indian Country Today Media Network reports.


On Dec. 7, 2015, the case landed before the Supreme Court.

John Doe's supporters holding signs outside the Supreme Court. Photo by Rebecca Nagle/Force: Upsetting Rape Culture. Used with permission.

It's no secret the United States has a rather unjust legacy when it comes to Native Americans.

And, lest we think it's a legacy left in the past, John Doe's case of Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, heard by the Supreme Court today, is a reminder that it continues in the present.

Dollar General has argued that Native American tribes do not have civil jurisdiction over an outside corporation doing business on tribal land. Basically, this means that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Dollar General, outside businesses may be able to commit other crimes on tribal land without fear of a lawsuit.

Protesters holding a sign supporting John Doe outside the Supreme Court. Photo by Rebecca Nagle/Force: Upsetting Rape Culture. Used with permission.

For the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the SCOTUS ruling could undermine its ability to protect tribe members.

“For the United States Supreme Court to say, 'You know what? ... Your tribal lands don't matter. Your laws don't matter. You can't protect your people on your tribal land.' It's devastating," said Cherrah Giles, Cabinet Secretary of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

Sexual assault happens to native women at higher rates than any other racial group in the United States. According to the National Congress of American Indians, native women are at least two times as likely to be sexually assaulted or raped compared with all other races.

The Maynard Media Center on Structural Inequality discusses how such high rates show just how underserved native women are when it comes to sexual and domestic violence and how underreported these crimes are. The same is likely even more true for native men.

In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe that tribal courts did not have the authority to criminally prosecute non-Native Americans through tribal courts. The 1978 ruling has contributed to a culture of impunity of non-Native Americans who perpetrate violence against native women.

Supporters gathered outside the Supreme Court in December 2015 to show solidarity with John Doe and his tribe.

“When survivors have little to no access to justice, then sexual violence goes through the roof. And that's what's happening in Indian country," Rebecca Nagle, from the organization Force: Upsetting Rape Culture, told Upworthy.

As a result, 86% of Native American victims of sexual violence report their perpetrators as non-Native American, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

Along with other Native American tribes, Force: Upsetting Rape Culture is leading much of the activist effort supporting John Doe's case. The group demonstrated in front of the Supreme Court the morning the case was heard with The Monument Quilt, a project similar to the AIDS quilt, that spans the entire United States. Rape and abuse survivors and allies of any gender can contribute squares to the quilt.



The monument quilt stops in Baltimore in August 2014. Photo by Rebecca Eisenberg/Upworthy.

Giles and 75 other people added squares to the quilt in advance of the protest, she told Upworthy over the phone.

“It's healing. It's very cathartic to put it down there and say my story's being told and being carried along with all these other stories and all these other supporters of people who say, 'You know what? You're not alone, and we're here to support you,'" Giles said.

Monument Quilt squares from the Dollar General Supreme Court protest. Photo by Rebecca Nagle/Force: Upsetting Rape Culture. Used with permission.

"People need to know about [this case] and express outrage," Nagle said about the little media coverage that John Doe's case has gotten.

The fate of the country's Native American reservations is currently in the hands of Supreme Court, yet Nagle and Giles think the public at large can help.

Giles implores people to boycott Dollar General: "Don't give them the opportunity to continue to stay in business, basically paying for a perpetrator, for a child molester, to be protected by a big corporation."



Those wishing to express their support cand o so under the #shameondollargeneral hashtag on Twitter. Force: Upsetting Rape Culture has a guide on how to do that.

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared

One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

True
Norton

This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

Keep Reading Show less