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Kevin Abourezk: Native women in Nebraska celebrate VAWA bill

Native reporter Kevin Abourezk of The Lincoln Journal Star gets reaction from Native women advocates to the passage of S.47, a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act:
"It's going to really help the jurisdictional issues," said Shirley Sneve, executive director of Vision Maker Media in Lincoln and a Rosebud Sioux tribal member. "I think we're all very happy that it finally happened. It was a long, tough battle."

Native advocates have argued that granting tribal courts jurisdiction to handle cases involving non-Native defendants -- a power they don't have now -- was necessary to help address an alarming level of violence against women on tribal lands, often perpetrated by non-Native partners.

The National Congress of American Indians says 39 percent of Native and Alaska Native women will be subject to violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes, well above rates for other races. It says U.S. attorneys declined to prosecute half of violent crimes on tribal lands, and two-thirds of those cases involved sexual abuse.

"It's important because it gives tribal courts the ability to take on some of those cases that the federal courts aren't able to," said Racheal Strong, a Rosebud Sioux who works for the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.

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Kevin Abourezk: Native women celebrate domestic violence bill's passage (The Lincoln Journal Star 3/1)

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