‘There’s not going to be anyone there to do it for you’: Self-defense taught to Indigenous women in Bismarck

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A self-defense course for Native American women took place Friday.

We sat in on the class to see why events like this are coming to the community.

‘No More Stolen Sisters’ is one of the Sacred Pipe Resource Center’s many missions.

To help indigenous women in our area better protect themselves, they hosted a self-defense class in Bismarck.

“Most of the time, when you’re alone or in rural areas, you have to defend yourself. There’s not going to be anyone there to do it for you,” said Cheryl Kary, the Executive Director of the Sacred Pipe Resource Center.

Kylie Hunts-in-Winter has been in martial arts since she was 3.

She now travels the country sharing what she’s learned with her people.

“Kylie has some very specialized knowledge that can help us in protecting ourselves,” said Kary.

She tells us she wanted to find a way to combine her world of activism for the Native culture with her passion for martial arts.

“This is something that people don’t realize is so prevalent. So, for me, not only just teaching these classes and being able to help somebody defend themselves. But also, bringing awareness to the issue. Every time that I talk to someone about this who is not in the Indigenous community they tend to not be aware of it whatsoever. When you’re in the Indigenous community, you see how much stronger of an impact it has. If you are active in your community. If you don’t know someone that’s gone missing, you definitely know someone who knows someone,” said Kylie Hunts-in-Winter.

According to the National Crime Information Center, as of 2016, there were 5,712 cases of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls reported.

Indigenous women are two and a half times more likely to experience violence in their lifetime. Hunts-in-Winter says one important thing to remember about self-defense is this:

“Self-defense is not only physical. It’s not only about punching someone or being able to kick them away from you. It’s about having the mindset of safety and being aware of your surroundings in order to keep yourself mentally aware and mentally safe,” said Hunts-in-Winter.

Hunts-in-Winter holds national and world titles in martial arts.

She plans to continue teaching martial arts, even as she attends Harvard later this fall.

She also tells us she is in talks to do a UN sidebar event talking for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s movement.

The Sacred Pipe Resource Center hopes to bring her back for an extended version of the class in the future.

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