Alaska to recognize tribal domestic violence protection orders

Tribal court judges in Alaska, from left: Kenaitze Tribal Court Judge Rusty Swan, Tribal Court Judge David Voluck, Kenaitze Chief Tribal Court Judge Kim Sweet, Kenaitze Tribal Court Judge Susan Wells. Also pictured on far right is Ryan Fortson of the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center. Photo by Barbara Armstrong

The state of Alaska will begin recognizing all domestic violence protection orders issued by tribal courts.

Attorney General Craig Richards issued a formal opinion on Thursday explaining that tribal orders do not have to be entered into the state system. All orders that comply with the Violence Against Women Act deserve "full faith and credit" and must be enforced.

“This opinion provides clear direction to officers on the ground as well as the victims they seek to protect,” Richards said in a press release. “There should now be no doubt that these protection orders must be enforced.”

Previously, the state would only recognize tribal orders that were registered with a state court. The extra step posed an additional burden on victims, tribal advocates said.

The 2013 reauthorization of VAWA contains landmark provisions that recognize tribal authority over non-Indian offenders. One section excluded Alaska but Congress repealed it through S.1474, the Alaska Safe Families and Villages Act, late last year.

Get the Story:
Attorney general says tribal protective orders must be enforced (The Alaska Dispatch News 7/31)
Alaska Native tribes no longer have to register restraining orders with state (The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 7/31)

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

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