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Message from Two National Native American Organizations to Senate on VAWA Reauthorization: “We Cannot Afford to Wait”

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In a joint statement released Wednesday, the National Congress of American Indian and the National Native Women’s Resource Center called on the United States Senate to pass the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The bill was passed by the House of Representatives in March 2021.

“Every day that a bipartisan VAWA bill fails to pass is another day our women and children remain vulnerable in their own homes. It’s time to act. We cannot afford to wait, ”the two Native American nationals said in the Senate.

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Here is the text of the full joint statement:

National Congress of American Indian (NCAI) and National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) encouraged by bipartisan calls to modernize, re-authorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) launched during the hearing of the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary. yesterday.

A key part of VAWA’s reauthorization is to reaffirm the jurisdiction of tribal nations to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes of sexual violence, child abuse, elder abuse, criminal harassment, sex trafficking and abuse. attacks against law enforcement officers in the Indian country. Since VAWA was re-authorized in 2013, Tribal nations successfully sued non-Indian perpetrators in Indian country, making their communities safer for the Native American and Native Alaskan women, as well as for the non-Indians who live among and with them.

However, tribal nations have identified jurisdictional gaps, which continue to leave many indigenous victims of violence vulnerable and without access to justice. To truly modernize and strengthen VAWA, we must build on the success of the 2013 VAWA Tribal Arrangements in filling these gaps and increasing the resources available to tribal nations to protect their communities.

We thank the committee members who shared their experiences listening to domestic violence survivors and victim service providers and called for VAWA legislation that would protect all victims, including those who are citizens of tribal nations. Senators on both sides of the aisle called for child predators to be brought to justice and spoke at length about how victims of child abuse should be given the support they so badly need. We agree, because true justice will not be achieved until tribal criminal jurisdiction over anyone who abuses an Indian child on tribal lands is fully restored.

The VAWA reauthorization must also include additional resources and reimbursements for tribal nations. As US Deputy Attorney General Monaco explained, “demand exceeds supply” when we look at domestic violence resources and services. Today, the strong demand for resources, services and justice is found throughout the Indian country.

In March 2021, the House of Representatives adopted HR 1620, a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill with strong tribal provisions that builds on the re-establishment of tribal criminal jurisdiction, which began in VAWA 2013. The Senate must do the same and act quickly to support victims and survivors across the country.

NCAI and NIWRC call on the Senate to ensure that VAWA is modernized, re-authorized and strengthened by reaffirming tribal jurisdiction and increasing resources for the Indian country, in 2021. Every day that a bipartisan VAWA bill is not not adopted is another day when our women and children remain vulnerable in their own homes. It’s time to act. We cannot afford to wait.

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