Tribal Law & Order Act

At the end of July, the president signed the Tribal Law & Order Act.  The ceremony is indeed quite touching, especially the opening and introduction given by Lisa Marie Iyotte – member of the White Clay People (Rosebud Sioux, Lakota Ospaya).

One primary reason for such legislation was the violence Native American women suffer at a rate ranging from double that of the national average to up to 20 times the national average on some reservations.

I think this encapsulates it better than I can:

According to a Department of Justice report, Native American women suffer from violent crime at a rate three and a half times greater than the national average. Astoundingly, one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes (sic). At the White House Tribal Nations Conference in November 2009, President Obama stated that this shocking figure “is an assault on our national conscience that we can no longer ignore.”

…. The Act includes a strong emphasis on decreasing violence against women in Native communities, and is one of many steps this Administration strongly supports to address the challenges faced by Native women…..

However, the Act focuses not only on prosecution but also on prevention. It reauthorizes and improves programs to prevent and treat alcohol and substance abuse, as well as programs that improve opportunities for at-risk Indian youth. Getting men and boys involved in stopping the violence against women and girls is an important step to ending it everywhere, giving youth a chance to change their own futures.

Within the past 2-3 years I’ve become much more aware after watching Senator Dorgan grill some U.S. Attorneys on the crime statistics ‘out of Indian Country’ and why more wasn’t being done to solve crimes, etc.  It began with watching meetings and hearings for the Indian Affairs committee on C-SPAN.  Appearing as a stumbling block was Public Law 280 (PL-280), that transfer of “legal authority (jurisdiction) from the federal government to state governments which significantly changed the division of legal authority among tribal, federal, and state governments.”  It’s cumbersome and complicated and it resulted in investigations that became cumbersome and complicated as well as some that were simply – nonexistent.

Happened to find this from Amnesty International’s blog, Human Rights Now. The poster of the blog entry, Larry Cox, was a guest at the signing.  I cried just watching the video . . . .

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