Sarah Deer Among 21 Diverse MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Winners

Sarah Deer, 41, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, is among a group of 21 diverse 2014 fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Each will receive a stipend of $625,000 over five years. The “no strings attached” stipend is paid out in equal quarterly installments over the five years.

Deer, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, has documented the failure to protect victims of physical and sexual abuse in Indian country. In 2007, she spearheaded an Amnesty International report, Maze of Injustice, in which she reframed the problem of sexual violence in Indian country as an international human rights issue.

Read more about her achievements, and why she received the MacArthur Fellowship here.

“The MacArthur Fellowship will change my life in a number of ways, but more importantly it will allow me to do more focused work on the passion that I have for justice for Native women, but there’s a little more pressure now,” Deer says in a MacArthur Foundation video. “I really want to live up to what they have identified in me. So I’ll be looking forward to proving them right.”

In that video she discusses what it is that she does and how she does it.

“What I focus on in my work is the issue of violent crime on Indian reservations and I focus on how to address that high rate of violence, specifically gender violence,” Deer says in a MacArthur Foundation video. “Native women experience the highest rate of violence victimization in the United States. And one of the reasons that the rate is so high is because the legal system, as it’s structured today, does not protect Native women.”

Watch the full video, in which she discusses the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, below: