Tribes in pilot project filed 26 VAWA cases against non-Indians

A view of the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon. Photo from Facebook

Three tribes that have participated in a Violence Against Women Act pilot program have filed 26 cases against non-Indians over the past year.

The Department of Justice selected the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, and the Umatilla Tribes of Oregon for the pilot project in February 2014. Two additional tribes -- the Fort Peck Tribes in Montana and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate in North Dakota and South Dakota -- were selected on Friday, the Associated Press reported.

“We can now show five different ways that tribes have successfully updated their laws and procedures to do implementation,” National Congress of American Indians general counsel John Dossett told the AP.

Congress enacted S.47 in 2013 to recognize the "inherent power" of tribes to arrest, prosecute and punish non-Indians for certain domestic violence offenses. Tribes that choose to exercise their authority must ensure their justice systems protect the constitutional rights of defendants.

The law went into effect nationwide on Saturday.

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Tribes now free to prosecute non-Indians for certain crimes (AP 3/9)

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