Jodi Rave: Biden touts Indian Country priorities
"On Sunday, Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden said an Obama-Biden administration would increase federal prosecutions in Indian Country and strengthen tribal court jurisdiction over crimes occurring within reservation borders, regardless of the race of the criminal.

“There will be a much, much, much heightened sensitivity to legitimate causes within reservations that, quite frankly, we've just been taking advantage,” said Biden, author of the 1994 Crime Bill. Tribal justice systems “should have greater say. I tried to get that in the original crime bill when I wrote it. I find it absolutely fascinating that we have this dual jurisdiction.”

Native women, in particular, suffer when tribal jurisdictions overlap with state and federal jurisdictions, creating an environment of lawlessness, said Biden, in an interview with the Missoulian, after speaking to a crowd of some 1,200 people at Flathead High School.

Tribes cannot prosecute a non-Native if crimes such as sexual assault or domestic abuse happen on tribal lands. Meanwhile, one in three Native women will be raped in her lifetime. More than 80 percent of the time, the rapist is non-Native.

“We use that jurisdiction as rationale not to proceed against abuse against women,” said Biden, D-Del., who also wrote the landmark Violence Against Women Act.

The act now contains a much-heralded safety provision for Native women.

“We have the highest rate of rape of all industrialized nations in the world,” Biden said. “The one thing I'm proudest of in my career is we have changed the definition of what constitutes assault. It used to be that, ‘She's my woman.' ”

“Indian or not, no one has the right to raise his hand to a woman in anything other than self defense,” he said. “And as federal prosecutors, when that crime involves someone who is not a member of an Indian nation, we will see to it that it is prosecuted. We will change the culture by doing that.”"

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Biden promises more justice on reservations (The Missoulian 9/8)

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