Troy Eid: Progress on improving public safety for Alaska Natives

Former U.S. Attorney Troy Eid, the chairman of the Indian Law and Order Commission, welcomes support for including Alaska tribes in S.47, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act:
This past February, Alaska's senior U.S. Senator, Lisa Murkowski -- who co-sponsored VAWA -- declared it now needs to be extended to Alaska Native Nations. Both Alaska's Senators are now vowing to make that happen.

This could be a watershed. Recognizing Alaska Native Nations' power over all citizens to bring perpetrators of domestic violence to justice will, over time, confirm and accelerate the larger trend in Alaska and across the country to help Native Nations make and enforce their own laws. Where that's already happened elsewhere, the commission documented that violent crime rates have gone down. The same can happen in Alaska.

In recent years, the State has insisted that Alaska Native Nations lack any territorial sovereignty, or legal control over their lands -- a conclusion contradicted by Federal law, as the commission's report and previous studies by Alaska's own experts make clear. Extending VAWA to Alaska, however, will make it essential for the State and Alaska Native villages to determine jointly -- on a government-to-government basis -- the precise boundaries in which tribes' have civil and criminal jurisdiction to make and enforce their own domestic violence laws over Native and non-Native people living and working there.

This line-drawing can happen in many different ways -- by negotiating inter-governmental agreements between Native Nations and the State, for example -- and need not replicate the Indian reservation system in the Lower 48, as is sometimes mistakenly suggested.

Once territorial lines are drawn for VAWA purposes, they can be enforced not by State fiat or decree, but through a process of give-and-take based on mutual recognition and respect. Both sides will have a seat at the table. State policy will begin to shift toward building more Tribally based capacity for self-governance in order to keep the peace and respect everyone's civil rights.

Get the Story:
Troy Eid: Reasons to be optimistic about Alaska's public safety crisis (The Alaska Dispatch 6/21)

Indian Law and Order Commission Report:
A Roadmap For Making Native America Safer (November 2013)

Related Stories:
DOJ supports bill to include Alaska tribes in VAWA jurisdiction (06/12)
Alaska lawmakers weigh Indian Law and Order Commission report (4/9)
Troy Eid: Making Native America safer for a new generation (1/31)
Column: Governor fails to improve safety in Native villages (1/8)
Indian Law and Order Commission pushes for reform in Alaska (12/5)
APRN: Debate about law enforcement for Alaska Native villages (11/20)

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