BROWNING, MT. — The murder rate for Native American women is 10 times higher than the rate for non-indigenous women.
One man started a program to stop young girls on his reservation from becoming victims. The boxing gym teaches girls the skills that could save their lives.
Frank Kipp said his home in Browning, Montana is the only place on earth he’d want to be. That’s why he’s dedicated his life to helping the young people in his community.
“I always look at things like a quilt. There are some really beautiful pieces. There’s some questionable pieces,” said Kipp of his community. “There's been a lot of sorrow, but then there's a lot of good things here.”
Kipp is a big part of the goodness in his community.
“We're not just a boxing club; we're also prevention,” he said of the Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club.
Before each session, Kipp gathers the students in the ring to talk about drug and alcohol prevention and personal safety.
“I worry about a lot of you guys. I can’t help that,” he told the students.
Some are just 10 years old, some are about to graduate high school.
After Kipp’s time as an officer, he knew this gym was needed.
“I've dealt with molestation cases, rape cases, seen murder cases. I was the guy that picked up the pieces, but I just got to the point where, I just, I had enough,” he said.
That moment wasn’t his only breaking point.
“I'm a traumatic brain injury survivor. I am a cancer survivor. I'm a survivor of bullying.”
Now, Kipp is using his pain to help. He and his daughter, Beatrice, teamed up to train the next generation.
“Girls can box just as tough as boys,” said Kipp.
He believes it’s more than a sport; it's about safety. The White House released an Executive Order saying Native American women are at a much higher risk to be victims of domestic violence, assault, and murder than non-native women.
“If you don't fight back. You might not, you might not get a second chance,” said Kipp.
Now, the Kipp family is giving them one.
“I can help other girls protect themselves and be their bigger sister,” said Beatrice.
She may only 16, but she has the wisdom to know what’s at stake.
“I'm always afraid of going anywhere alone because I don't know if I'm going to be like one of those girls. I'm afraid that I won't come back or say goodbye to my family one last time,” she said.
But here, she and the girls share a growing confidence.
“I hope to like show strength, and to show that I can fight, that I am not going to back down on anything," the teen said.
“I'm just trying to protect myself,” said 10-year-old Dustilee Calflooking, who just started her boxing career and said she is excited to learn more.
“Punching a bag gets my anger out and makes me feel better, and it doesn’t make me think how I hate the confidence I have,” said Serenity Young Running Crane, who also started boxing in the last couple of years.
Seeing their confidence keeps Kipp going, too.
“I always tell people, my tomorrow's not promised. I’m a cancer survivor, my cancer could come back. I’m a traumatic brain injury survivor. I might forget who I am someday. As long as I’m here, I will do as much as I can to help people.”
The Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club just reopened after a year and a half of COVID-19 shutting it down. Kipp said he cannot wait to get kids back in the ring and be that gathering spot everyone can count on, once again.
If you'd like to help Kipp on his mission, you can donate to the club HERE.