Three Native American tribes in the West soon will have the power to prosecute non-natives for a limited set of crimes, becoming the first group of native communities to get such authority since a 1978 Supreme Court ruling banned it, the Associated Press reports. The ruling stripped tribes of criminal jurisdiction over non-natives on their reservations. Last year’s reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act allows tribes to bring cases against non-natives for domestic violence crimes and violations of protection orders.
The U.S. Justice Department said yesterday that the Pascua Yaqui Tribe in Arizona, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon have met requirements to implement provisions of the law starting Feb. 20 under a pilot project. Other tribes can use the law starting in March 2015. The changes to tribal jurisdiction resulted from the high rate of domestic violence on reservations, and from an effort to give tribes more authority over crime. Native American women suffer from domestic violence at rates more than double the national average. Jurisdiction on reservations is split among tribes, states, and the federal government, depending on the crime and the race of the person involved.