The FBI is recognizing Coeur D’Alene tribal member Bernie LaSarte for her efforts to combat domestic violence in the Idaho Panhandle.
The FBI has named LaSarte one of 56 recipients from across the country who will formally accept a national Community Leadership Award in Washington, D.C., next month. LaSarte is also the only Native American recipient.
LaSarte started as the program manager for the Coeur D’Alene tribe’s domestic violence and sexual assault program in 2005. There were only four files on her desk. Since then, LaSarte has found enough funding to grow the program to reach hundreds of people who need help.
“I don’t think people understand the impact of domestic violence and or sexual assault is really that great,” LaSarte said. “Indian women are beaten three and half times more than any other race. One in three women will be raped and on some reservations, that’s 100 percent.”
Eric Barnhart is the Special Agent in Charge at the Salt Lake City Field Office, which oversees operations in Utah, Idaho and Montana. He said the kinds of crimes LaSarte is trying to combat aren’t unique to Indian Country.
“Domestic violence is probably one of the most underreported crimes we see in any demographic,” Barnhart said.