Violence Against Women Office Awards Grants To 11 Indian Tribal Governments

December 9, 2021

By a Biometrica staffer

On Wednesday, Dec. 8, the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) announced awards to 11 Indian Tribal governments to support them in exercising special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction (SDVCJ). The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) recognized the authority of tribes to exercise SDVCJ over certain defendants, regardless of their Indian or non-Indian status, who commit crimes of domestic violence or dating violence or violate certain protection orders in Indian country.

In July, Biometrica’s Aara Ramesh wrote that the Supreme Court’s unanimous affirmation of the right of tribal law enforcement officers to detain non-Native people who they reasonably suspect to have been involved in a crime on Native land. That affirmation breathed life into the VAWA, which is still pending in front of Congress, but might better protect Indigenous women too. Why is that critical?

Only yesterday, Dec. 8, for example, we wrote about how gender-based violence still disproportionally affects women and girls globally, particularly intimate partner violence or violence perpetrated by family members/relatives according to a research report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The data on violence committed against women is shocking. Per that same UNODC report, on average, a woman or girl is killed by someone in her own family every 11 minutes across the world.

When it comes to the U.S., the situation is worse for Native American women. It is widely acknowledged that the incidence of violence experienced by them is much higher than that of other races. Tribal authorities, however, find themselves hamstrung when it comes to punishing violence perpetrated against Native women due to the jurisdictional complexities associated with investigating and prosecuting serious violent crimes committed against Native communities on Native lands by people of other races.

“We heard from tribal leaders that they need access to funds to support the day-to-day costs of SDVCJ, and I’m pleased to announce OVW is issuing eleven awards to implementing tribes to defray these costs,” OVW Principal Deputy Director Allison Randall said in a statement on Wednesday.

OVW’s Tribal Jurisdiction Program was authorized under VAWA 2013 and supports tribes with jurisdiction over Indian country in exercising SDVCJ, the DOJ’s statement said. Tribal Jurisdiction Program funds may be used to strengthen tribal criminal justice systems, provide indigent criminal defense, conduct jury trials and provide services and applicable rights to crime victims.

Costs could include, but are not necessarily limited to, incarceration costs (including medical care) for non-Indian SDVCJ defendants, trial costs for SDVCJ cases, defense counsel costs, costs associated with empaneling a jury for an SDVCJ trial, batterer’s intervention or other pre- or post-conviction supervision or programming costs and related training and technical assistance.

The recipients of Wednesday’s one-year awards under OVW’s Tribal Jurisdiction Program are:

– Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma
– Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, North Carolina
– Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Montana
– Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Oklahoma
– Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, Michigan
– Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Arizona
– Port Gamble S’klallam Tribe, Washington
– Pueblo of Santa Clara, New Mexico
– Seminole Nation of Oklahoma
– Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
– Tulalip Tribes of Washington