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Indigenous-led Research on Sex Trafficking among Native Americans in South Dakota


Research Team


Principal Investigator: Bridget Diamond-Welch

Co-Principal Investigators: Katie M. Edwards

Funding Information

Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Justice—Office on Violence Against Women (OVW)

Subcontract from: University of South Dakota

Award Date: Nov 1, 2021

End Date: Oct 31, 2024


* This project is funded by a subcontract from the University of South Dakota.

Native American women and girls experience disproportionally high rates of sex trafficking, and sex trafficking is associated with numerous short- and long-term harmful outcomes. However, researchers know little about the impact that sex trafficking has specifically on Native survivors — or what Native survivors need to heal and achieve safety and justice.

Researchers will collaborate with Native American organizations and survivors to understand the impacts that sex trafficking has on Native survivors; what Native survivors need to cope, heal and achieve safety and justice, and how they define these outcomes; and how cultural differences and social inequalities shape what type of help is available and how they can access services/justice.

Participants will include 75 Native adult survivors of sex trafficking who reside one four Native American reservations in South Dakota. Survivors will be recruited through partnering agencies as well as the broader community (e.g., fliers, word of mouth) to obtain a sample of survivors who both did and did not access formal services. Survivors will have the option of participating a talking circle (facilitated by a female-identified elder) or one-on-one interview (facilitated by a Native or non-Native research partner depending on participant preference).

All research will be led by an advisory board that includes Native practitioners and survivors. With tribal and advisory board approval, data will be shared via numerous outlets to reach a broad and diverse audience. Findings will be used to develop culturally grounded interventions to support healing, safety and justice for Native sex trafficking survivors. 

Psychosocial Development & Social-Emotional Learning, Rural Education & Communities

Researchers are collaborating with Native American organizations and sex trafficking survivors to understand the impacts sex trafficking has on survivors.
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