So I'll go ahead and mention the elephant in the room, since doing so would have detracted from the author's narrative:
- Alaska is one big reservation
- Rape is about power
- Reservations are about powerlessness.
I haven't been to Alaska, although I've done a lot of contract work up there. I have spent some serious time on reservations, though - I had to drive through six of them to get to a Taco Bell growing up; thirteen of them to get to a Chuck E. Cheese.
The entire reservation structure is about robbing someone of their initiative. Take your money, shut up. Have a handout, shut up. Stay in your place, shut up. Do your own thing, shut up. And whatever you do, don't make us look at it. The bait'n'switch of the reservation system gives tribes a modicum of autonomy to handle their own affairs in exchange for utter powerlessness in the overall power structure.
I would imagine an Alaskan reservation would be particularly grim, given that even the white folx are on the dole in Alaska - everybody's got their Permanent Fund dividend. It's also a lot harder to get away from Alaska than it is New Mexico. If you're in the shit in New Mexico you can drive. If you're in the shit in Alaska? Mush, mutherfucker. On a related note, I have a couple friends that were doing Peace Corps stuff in rural Kazakhstan for two years. Then they did two years in rural Azerbaijan. Then they decided they wanted to help closer to home… so they moved to Grants, NM. The American reservation system was enough to make them peace out. After four years in the ex-Soviet Near Abroad. That says something, I think.
Hinted at, but not squarely pointed fingers at, is the implication that Alaska has a "everybody has to deal with it" approach to sexual abuse because they simply don't have the "outcast" options exploited in the Lower 48. Down here on the mainland we generally treat our sexual offenders as garbage to be cast out of view. It doesn't take much - you say "recidivism" and everybody on the PTA lines up to keep you a thousand miles from any elementary school. Up in the tundra you're either in town or freezing/starving to death out in the wasteland. A pragmatic decision, if you will - either sexual assault/abuse is a capital crime or everybody has to face it.
On the one hand, it's a much more humane, much more plausibly effective approach - rape is about power and the approach is to diminish the rapist's sense of powerlessness. Return them to humanity and normalize their expectations and attitudes towards sex and power (as best we can). Compared to rubbing the rapist's nose in their own powerlessness and then expending exorbitant resources to rob them of an opportunity to lash out, it makes a lot of sense.
But on the other hand, it emphasizes that nobody gives a shit about the reservation. Never have, never will.