PBPN Volunteers Complete SAFESTAR Training

MAYETTA:  Some members of Tribal Council attended a ceremony at the casino today where six women from the Prairie Band community were recognized for completing an intensive volunteer training that will help see victims of sexual assault on the common land through oftentimes difficult medical and law enforcement processes.

The training, called SAFESTAR, stands for Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Safety Training, and Resources, and is sponsored by the Southwest Center for Law & Policy  Trainers from the SWCLAP came to the common land this week and were the instructors for the six PBPN volunteers who completed the 40-hour course.


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Holding certificates of completion as SAFESTAR volunteers are (left to right) Samantha Wahquahboshkuk, Keirsten Hale, Iva Rank, Shirley Rice, Josette Whitlock and Joy Matchie.  On the back row (left to right) are Tribal Council members Carrie O’Toole, Joyce Guerrero and Tom Wabnum.

According to the SWCLAP website, the purpose of SAFESTAR is to provide specially trained laypersons in tribal communities who can provide necessary and important healthcare for sexual assault victims in Indian Country.  Along with the intensive training of local community health care sexual assault specialists, tribal and federal criminal justice professionals are cross trained to utilize collected evidence that can lead to successful federal and tribal court criminal prosecutions.

Cordelia D. Clapp, RN, BSN (Pawnee), one of the founders of the organization who is also a SAFESTAR trainer, told the News that she was very impressed at the response of the PBPN in their support of the program. “We’ve been blown away by the positive response we’ve gotten from various tribal departments and the government to help in the collaborative effort.”  As examples, she pointed out how pleased she was that members of the Tribal Council came to the closing ceremony and were inquiring about the program and she said that Tribal Emergency Services (fire and police departments), under the direction of Chief Doug Schreiner, were also very willing to play an active part in the program.

Hallie Bongar White, the director of SWCLAP, was also interviewed and said that Samantha Wahquahboshkuk, one of the Tribal Victim Services Specialists for the PBPN,  had done a tremendous job in coordinating the training with her group. “The Prairie Band has a wonderful Social Services Department and Tribal Victim Services program and the community has embraced the program which is very exciting to us.”  She said that there were only 20 SAFESTAR trainers in the country and the PBPN now had six of those 20.

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Samantha Wahquahboshkuk (left) with Hallie Bongar White after the closing ceremony of the training and the lunch held at the casino.

SAFESTAR was founded six years ago and is an approved program by the Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime and International Association of Forensic Nurses.