New VAWA Law Gives Indian Tribes Power to Prosecute Non-Indians


The Violence Against Women Act reauthorization that cleared Congress yesterday gives Indian tribes new power to prosecute non-Indians in tribal courts for any crimes linked to domestic violence, McClatchy Newspapers report. “I'm ecstatic,” said Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes in Washington state, who came to the Capitol last year to recount how she'd been sexually and physical abused while growing up on the reservation. Parker and other tribal officials lobbied hard for a new law in response to a 1978 Supreme Court ruling that tribes had no authority to try or punish non-Indians. The case involved a Washington state man whom the Suquamish Indian Tribe ordered to appear in tribal court after he was cited on charges of resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. Backers say the new law is needed because too many local authorities don't want to investigate crimes committed on reservations. And they say the situation has become severe: Indian women are murdered at more than 10 times the national average, and more than one in three will be raped in their lifetimes, says the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women. That rape rate is twice as high as it is for other ethnicities.

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