Cherokee Nation on Thursday opened a new Tahlequah facility for its ONE FIRE Victims Services program, corresponding with the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
"Our move to our new facility is going to be great for us," said interim director Shawna Duch. "We've got a more secure location, we've got a bigger location, we've got an office that looks like home. It's going to be comfortable for a survivor to come in and get services here."
At a Thursday ceremony outside the new center, located next to the Cherokee Nation W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex on Muskogee Avenue in Tahlequah, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
"It was important to find ONE FIRE a space that would be suitable for the important work that they do, not mixed in with other departments but somewhat isolated, so that it can be an atmosphere, really, that's peaceful and caring for the victims that come to see the wonderful staff here," Hoskin said, after signing a proclamation declaring April Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the Cherokee Nation.
ONE FIRE serves individuals living within the boundaries of the 14-county Cherokee Nation reservation, providing survivors with victim advocates, transitional housing, emergency food and clothing and more.
Hoskin noted in the proclamation that Native women are disproportionately impacted by sexual violence, with more than half experiencing it over their lifetimes.
"The Cherokee Nation is committed to raising awareness about sexual violence and encourages each of our Cherokee Nation citizens and employees to increase their awareness of sexual violence so they can speak out against it," Hoskin said.
ONE FIRE's 24/7 emergency helpline is 1-866-458-5399. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can also reach out to the 24/7, confidential National Sexual Assault Hotline via online chat or by phone at 1-800-656-4673.