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Tribes in Oklahoma prepare for jurisdiction provision in VAWA





Tribes in Oklahoma are debating how best to implement S.47, a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that allows them to investigate, prosecute and sentence non-Indians for domestic violence offenses.

The Cherokee Nation and the Muscogee Nation already operate well developed courts. But the law requires tribes to provide non-Indian defendants with a jury that "reflect[s] a fair cross section of the community" and "do[es] not systematically exclude any distinctive group in the community, including non-Indians," something that isn't necessarily in place at the moment.

"We have faith in our tribal citizens to make those decisions solely based on the facts that are presented, regardless of who the defendants are," Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree told The Muskogee Phoenix.

Under the new law, tribal jurisdiction applies when the domestic violence offense is committed in "Indian Country" as defined by Section 1151 of title 18 in the U.S. Code. That definition includes trust lands, allotted lands and restricted lands in Oklahoma.

Get the Story:
Domestic violence law poses problem for tribes (The Muskogee Phoenix 3/10)
New law gives tribal courts more jurisdiction (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 3/10)
Sexual violence scars Native American women (Al Jazeera 3/7)

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