Eastern Cherokees assert authority in all domestic violence cases

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians justice center houses the tribal court, a 96-bed jail and the tribal police department. Photo from Cherokee One Feather

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina will begin exercising jurisdiction over non-Indian domestic violence offenders.

The tribal council approved changes in laws to comply with the Violence Against Women Act. Chief Michell Hicks signed the bill into law on Monday, The Cherokee One Feather reported.

“This is an incredibly historic day for the Eastern Band of Cherokees,” Terri Henry, the chairperson of the tribal council, told the paper. “We have fought for many years for this particular piece of legislation.”

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. Tribes must ensure their justice systems protect the rights of defendants in order to exercise their authority.

Among other issues, the Eastern Cherokees changed their laws to address jury selection. VAWA requires a jury to reflect the entire reservation community, Indian and non-Indian alike.

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Tribe asserts DV jurisdiction over non-Indians (The Cherokee One Feather 6/16)

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