Published on Mar 16, 2022
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) celebrates President Biden signing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law yesterday, codifying the historic tribal provisions that strengthen tribal sovereignty and safety in Indian Country. The reauthorization of VAWA, passed as part of the Omnibus Spending Package for Fiscal Year 2022, empowers Tribal Nations to exercise restored jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators of child violence, sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking, crimes against tribal law enforcement and correctional officers, and obstruction of justice.
“The historic tribal provisions in this bill attest to years of powerful, collaborative efforts between survivors, tribal leaders, and allies across Indian Country,” said NCAI President Fawn Sharp. “We commend Congress’ momentous action to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and now, by exercising our inherent sovereignty and jurisdiction, Tribal Nations will continue to increase safety and justice for victims who had previously seen little of either.”
NCAI, which established the Task Force on Violence Against Women in 2003, has advocated alongside survivors, Tribal Nations, and domestic violence advocates to restore tribal jurisdiction and protect tribal communities from the highest crime victimization rates in the country. “This VAWA reauthorization goes beyond just restoring our inherent tribal jurisdiction to protect our communities, it creates another powerful tool to address the epidemic of Missing Murdered Indigenous Women across Indian Country,” said President Shannon Holsey, NCAI Treasurer and NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women Co-Chair.
VAWA’s tribal provisions also create an Alaska pilot project, which allows a limited number of Alaska Native Villages to exercise Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators. Chief Mike Williams of the Akiak Native Community, who also serves as the NCAI Alaska Region Vice-President, said, “The Alaska pilot program and Alaska Native Village jurisdiction is pivotal to transforming the public safety crisis in Alaska. This reauthorization of VAWA empowers us to take the necessary steps to build healthier and safer tribal communities in Alaska and across Indian Country for generations to come.”
NCAI will host a virtual Tribal Leader Town Hall on the Violence Against Women Act on March 22, 2022 to discuss this historic moment for Indian Country, review the tribal provisions in the law, and highlight the next steps for Tribal Nations.
About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.