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Lecture discusses sex-trafficking in Native American communities

Native American Heritage Month ended Friday with the presentation, “Sex-Trafficking Past and Present of California’s Native Peoples.”

Cari Herthel spoke about how it affects tribes and tribal people.

“Sex trafficking is a pretty big topic all over right now,” said Katie Garcia, outreach counselor for American Indian recruitment and resource initiative. “It’s really trying to tie it to cultural issues whether they are positive or negative; past cultural issues that people went through or present things that people are going through now. We try to let people know some of the struggles and the negative things that affect tribes and tribal people.”

The Cross Cultural and Gender Center, the American Indian Programming and Services and First Nation Student Club hosted the event which celebrates the culture of Native Americans and gives an opportunity for people who don’t know much about the culture to learn.

Garcia added we have American Indian students who are here at Fresno State currently, so it’s an opportunity for them to come out and celebrate their culture.

“So many of our students are not native,” Garcia said. “The whole community of Fresno State isn’t native, so if you didn’t grow up with that culture, you probably aren’t going to know a whole lot about it. It is an opportunity to let them see it, to let them participate in it and learn more about it if they choose to.”

Cari Herthel, a Charon and Esselen tribal member, presented methods to assist community development and cultural revitalization for American Indian tribes.

“American Indian tribal communities are nations, not minorities, and should be treated as such by U.S. federal and state governments,” Garcia said.

Herthel used her personal experience to present at the Charon Indian Nation of California for purposes of illustration.

Herthel said her father was a pimp and mother was a trafficker. She said she was sold at a very young age. When she was in high school, she said a trafficker came up to her.

He used alcohol and drugs to control her in sex trafficking until she escaped.

“I can tell you the truth, even though I do not have a pimp, I pimped myself out for the rest of my drug and alcohol use,” Herthel said. “I have no feeling with my body. I know what to do with my body, just keep the party going and increase the money. That was the way I lived my life.”

She fell into the same pattern her parents did, she said. While the children were at home, the mother was out partying for drugs.

“The same old story going on and on,” Herthel added. “I am standing here to tell my story, to help you wake up.”

Jasmina Felormick, a student who has a daughter said, “This lecture is very good, I’ve been to a lot of sex trafficking lectures. I have a daughter, so I should know what’s going on in the world.”