The Hidden Sex Trafficking of Native American Girls

BlogHer Spotlight

[Editor’s note: When we hear about sex trafficking of women and girls, most of us probably don’t think of America. Yet in the port city of Duluth, Minnesota, the prostitution of young Native girls has been quietly going on for decades, abetted by a culture of silence, racism and fear. In Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember, a young Native woman herself, offers a chilling glimpse of this hidden world.--Mona]

Like most Native women around the Great Lakes, I have heard the shameful term boat whore whispered since I was a child. We all knew about women who disappeared to “work the boats” and more important, we knew it was not a topic for discussion. Perhaps internalizing the inexplicable collective shame of being Native women in white America, we cringed when hearing about boat whores, fearful that their experience and reputation might somehow infect us, too. The story of the boat whore has been like a queer kind of natural disaster that visits destruction on the powerless yet holds them responsible.



Credit Image: © David Joles/Minneapolis Star Tribune/

Read more from Native girls are being exploited and destroyed at an alarming rate at Indian Country Today Media Network