Law | National

Cherokee Nation working to prosecute non-Indians under VAWA

The historic Cherokee Nation courthouse in Tahlequah is the oldest public building standing in Oklahoma. Photo from Cherokee Nation Judicial Branch

The largest tribe in the United States plans to exercise its authority over non-Indian domestic violence offenders

The Violence Against Women Act recognizes tribal authority to arrest, prosecute and sentence certain non-Indians for certain offenses. Tribes must ensure their justice systems protect the rights of defendants in order to exercise their authority and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is very close to meeting the requirements of the landmark 2013 law, senior assistant attorney general Chrissi Ross Nimmo told Tulsa Business and Legal News.

As part of its efforts to protect Native women, the tribe recently received a $390,544 grant from the Department of Justice to help prosecute sexual assault and domestic violence. The money will be distributed over two years.

“There is an epidemic of violence against women and sexual assault across Indian Country, but with these new Department of Justice funds, the Cherokee Nation will be able to better protect our citizens and prosecute violent offenders,” Chief Bill John Baker said in a press release.

The Cherokees were the only Indian Country recipient of grants from the Sexual Assault Justice Initiative. A total of $2.7 million was awarded last month.

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Grant to help with protection programs (Tulsa Business and Legal News 1/6)

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