Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate ready to exercise VAWA jurisdiction

The flag of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. Image from Sota Iya Ye Yapi

The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate is among the first group of tribes to exercise jurisdiction over non-Indians as part of the Violence Against Women Act.

The Department of Justice approved the tribe's participation in a pilot project in March, shortly before the jurisdiction provisions took effect nationwide. The tribe has since reached an agreement to house certain inmates in the jail in Richland County, North Dakota, The Wahpeton Daily News reported.

“I think what we’re trying to do here is close a gap with jurisdictional issues to make sure that these people don’t get away with this,” Sheriff Larry Leshovsky said at a county meeting, the paper reported.

S.47, the 2013 law that reauthorized VAWA, recognizes the "inherent power" of tribes to arrest, prosecute and punish non-Indians for certain domestic violence offenses. But tribes must ensure their justice systems protect the rights of defendants in order to exercise their authority.

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Board approves tribal agreement (The Wahpeton Daily News 5/22)

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