The Violence Against Women Act of 2013 (VAWA) recently turned a year old, and as tribes around the country are working on pilot programs the National Congress of American Indians reflected on the important law.
President Barack Obama on March 7, 2013 signed VAWA into law at a ceremony where many tribal women were in attendance for what NCAI said underscored the “inherent right [of tribal governments] to protect their people.”
NCAI President Brian Cladoosby reflected on VAWA’s progress over the past year saying, “Today is a day to celebrate what we have achieved together and commit ourselves to ensure the ongoing success of this important law. It acknowledges that tribal nations are the best equipped to ensure public safety in our communities and provides the tools we need to protect Native women.”
“VAWA 2013 is a tremendous victory. I am grateful to those who have stepped up to take the lead in the implementation phase,” stated Terri Henry, Chairperson, Tribal Council of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Co-Chair of the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women. “I want to congratulate the three tribes participating in the Pilot Project and remind everyone, we still have work to do.”
Those tribes are the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, and the Umatilla Tribes of Oregon. They will be the first in the nation to be able to exercise criminal jurisdiction over certain crimes of domestic and dating violence for Native and non-Natives alike as reported by Indian Country Today Media Network in February when it was announced.
Juana Majel Dixon, Councilwoman, Pauma Band of Indians and Co-Chair of the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women added, “To all our Native sisters throughout Indian country, we have given a decade of our lives’ work—and this could not have been done without all of you. We hold a sacred trust as sovereign Native women to our people.”
NCAI Executive Director, Jackie Pata added, “VAWA 2013 does not mark the end of our efforts to combat domestic violence in Indian country, it is an important step along the way. Tribal nations remain steadfast in the important work of protecting our Native women and securing our communities.”