Jodi Gillette: Protecting Native women from violent offenders

White House officials Jodi Gillette, Lynn Rosenthal and Raina Thiele discuss the importance of tribal jurisdiction provisions in S.47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013:
Today, we are excited to announce a key step that will help protect Native American women from domestic violence. Last year, President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) recognizing a tribe’s inherent right to protect women previously left vulnerable by gaps in the law. Today, the Attorney General announced that three American Indian tribes – the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation of Oregon, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, and the Tulalip Tribes of Washington –will participate in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Pilot Project to implement the new law. Crimes of domestic violence committed on the reservations of these tribes will be subject to tribal criminal prosecution, regardless of the defendant’s status as an Indian or non-Indian. The Pilot Projects are vital to delivering justice for Native American women who are victims of domestic violence and to providing a safer and more secure Indian Country.

Improving the safety of our tribal communities is a priority of President Obama and his Administration, including recognizing and strengthening tribal sovereignty. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 46% of Native American women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett highlighted the issue of domestic violence in Indian Country when she traveled to the Tulalip Tribes of Washington last year and spent time with tribal criminal justice leaders engaged in ending violence against Native women. Along with the Pilot Projects, the 2013 reauthorization of VAWA also clarifies that tribal courts have full civil jurisdiction to provide Native American women the safety and security of protection orders. And the new law gives additional tools to federal prosecutors to combat severe cases of domestic violence. These important provisions remind us all that a victim is a victim, and that everyone is entitled to protection against any perpetrator.

Get the Story:
Lynn Rosenthal, Jodi Gillette and Raina Thiele: Moving Forward to Protect Native American Women: Justice Department Announces VAWA 2013 Pilot Project for Tribes (The White House Blog 2/6)

Federal Register Notice:
Pilot Project for Tribal Jurisdiction over Crimes of Domestic Violence (November 29, 2013)

Related Stories
Three tribes to exercise jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders (2/6)

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