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Native American Women Become Bargaining Tool in VAWA Congress Negotiations

Rob Capriccioso
12/7/12

 

Tribal protections for Native women and families are one of the main issues being used as a bargaining tool by lawmakers in a last-ditch effort to get the Violence Against Women Act passed in the lame-duck session of Congress.

A Huffington Post report surfaced on the evening of December 6, suggesting that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was stalling a possible conference agreement between the Senate and House due solely to the Native American protections offered in the Senate bill.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., confirmed that notion on the Senate floor, saying that Republican leaders were blocking an agreement due to their disagreement with Native protections, which in the passed Senate bill include provisions that would give tribal courts jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes on reservations.

The passed House version does not include those tribal court provisions, instead allowing for a battered Native woman – or a tribe on her behalf – to file in U.S. District Court for a protection order against her alleged abuser, whether Indian or not, who committed the abuse on Indian land.

But Cantor’s office pushed back, with Cantor spokesman Doug Heye telling Indian Country Today Media Network, “There are many problems with the Huffington Post report.” Heye would not say specifically where Cantor stood on the Native protections, but he did note that the headline of the Huffington Post article had changed four times, each time softening Cantor’s position against the Native provisions.

Cantor’s office also confirmed that Vice President Joe Biden’s staff had been negotiating with Cantor’s staff to try to come to a deal on VAWA. “Our staffs continue to work towards a compromise on those multiple provisions outstanding in the hopes of finding a solution to pass the bill as quickly as possible,” Heye said.

White House spokesman Shin Inouye said on the evening of December 6 that the Obama administration still supported the Senate version of the bill. Whether Biden is willing to negotiate on that position has not been confirmed by his office, but Indian officials in Washington, including the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), are closely monitoring the situation.

NCAI officials had been discussing having a press conference on the evening of December 6 when it became clear that a Biden-Cantor compromise was in the works. But as the evening wore on, a vote did not happen, and plans for a press conference were put on hold.

All the while, U.S. Rep Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, has been working with his Republican colleagues to try to get the Senate pro-tribal version of the bill through Congress.

Cole, a Chickasaw citizen, told ICTMN in a recent interview that he supports the Senate version of the bill, and he has been working hard to educate his colleagues on the Native provisions.

“I have had an opportunity to talk to some people who say this would be unconstitutional,” Cole said. “It’s not unconstitutional! It’s clearly within Congress’ purview to give tribes the ability to have effective police power and protection of their own territory.

“There are 535 members of Congress, and 534 of them could go on the Sioux Reservation, commit a crime, and not be subjected to local jurisdiction,” Cole added. “If I did it, though, I would be, because I’m an Indian. We trust tribes to have jurisdiction over Native Americans. As long as you give people the right to appeal, they ought to be subject to tribal jurisdiction.… Most American communities have local jurisdiction; Native Americans do not. It’s not right. I will vote with the Democrats on this if an amendment or recommit is offered. I hope we can get it done this year.”

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Violence against Native women must be stopped now!!!! Change the laws in Indian country that make it happen. STOP IT NOW!!!!!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Unbelievable that Native people are still struggling for the basic right to sovereignty on their own land.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
What happened to equal protection under the law? Women should not be afforded any more rights or protections of the law if they want equality of the law.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Right now native american women are given less rights and protections then non-native americans. This is not right and needs to be changed. The fact is that native american women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped than other women in the USA, and 86 percent of those rapes are committed by non-natives who are rarely punished for it.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
personally i feel that dv laws should be absolute everywhere , whether u r on or off the reservation, there should be no getting away with dv or any illegal act ...all that message seems to put out is "hey go to the res commit a crime and run off it like a coward , natives cant do nothing once ya leave, kinda like having diplomatic immunity , i feel that is an injustice not only to the police but most of all the women on the res and everywhere in the continental US and the world that strive to make this world a better, safe place not only for ourselves ,but for women of all nationalities and cultures and our kids and future generations

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Are the white members of congress afraid to be subject to the law enforcement bodies on reservations ? Now, why would that be? :-) Jamie Okulam

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Current law does nothing to address the jurisdictional gap in Indian Country that leaves Native women without equal access to justice. In short, an Indian women raped or beaten by her non-Indian husband often has nowhere to turn for protection under existing law. Tribal law enforcement has no authority to intervene because the perpetrator is a non-Indian; the State has no authority to intervene because the victim is an Indian; and Federal Government-- the body with exclusive jurisdiction--has neither the will nor the resources to intervene in misdemeanor level domestic violence cases.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Take back your control of your Native Territory because they do not care what happens to Indigenous people, they would change it if white women were being treated like crap. take back your power and stop honoring their laws that go against the next generation of Indigenous people. They want genocide to continue at a slow pace.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
There should be no form of immunity from punishment for any form of domestic violence against women, or men, for that matter! I fail to understand the logic against Native Americans having jurisdiction over their own tribes.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
The indians have a right to form their own protection rights. HOW LONG WILL THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUE TO CONTROL THEIR RIGHTS. They have taken everything important to them already.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
The indians have a right to form their own protection rights. HOW LONG WILL THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUE TO CONTROL THEIR RIGHTS. They have taken everything important to them already.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I'm glad Tom Cole isn't afraid to act like an actual public servant on this issue and work toward what is best for his community and not just what satisfies old wealthy republicans. I don't get to feel like I'm actually being represented very often in Oklahoma, even by Cole.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I'm glad Tom Cole isn't afraid to act like an actual public servant on this issue and work toward what is best for his community and not just what satisfies old wealthy republicans. I don't get to feel like I'm actually being represented very often in Oklahoma, even by Cole.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Not going to happen because we matter even less than those from other nations. If it was happening in Africa, Europe or Asia then congress and the president might care. It is only happening to First Nations women so its not a priority. After all we are just less then dirt on their collective shoes. Personally I say we should enact the old laws they worked. The White Mans never will and all we have learned form them is to be "CIVILIZED" that includes becoming pedifiles, rapist, drug dealers and thieves. We lost our souls to the predominate culture and are now asking them to save us? No we should save ourselves because trusting a white man in the white house or even a black one is so not in our best interests. Remember the President is not our friend despite his protests because if he was, well then maybe he would make this a priority. Instead he worries about New Town a tragic thing but, more native women have died or been harmed then that in the last 200 plus years. Of course those children were white.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Look up the policies of colonialism and realize the white race will never allow the Indigenous any humanitarian rights. As invaders and conquerors, they reserve the right to steal all indigenous lands and resources and to get rid of the Indigenous altogether. it don't matter if they're republican or democrat, they refuse to recognize the indigenous till everything is stolen. our silent leaders refuse to educate themselves on the history of this country and refuse to stand up for their people, content in making careers in losing their peoples lands and resources. The part in VAWA dealing with Indigenous woman is why the House of Representatives killed the bill. Any indigenous who belong to the republicans or democrats should be ashamed of themselves to be a part of society trying to kill off their own people.

hesutu's picture
hesutu
Submitted by hesutu on
Our nations have become rape camps where foreign invaders from the adjacent nations claim the right to enter as they wish, attack and brutalize the women here, and leave without fear of prosecution. Their own government protects them and uses its police power to prevent us from holding foreign evildoers to justice for the violent crimes they have committed. When this happens in Africa and Serbia, there is a global consensus that it is a war crime.

indianmedicine's picture
indianmedicine
Submitted by indianmedicine on
Perhaps the "approach" needs to be looked at. The "argument" is "Jurisdiction Over The Person", when the "argument" should be "Jurisdiction Over The Matter". In the United States, there is Federal Jurisdiction, State Jurisdiction, Local Jurisdiction (which includes Reservations - both Military & NAI) "Rape, Sexual Battery,Assault " are ALL CRIMES AGAINST A PERSON, and there is no need to create a Special Character Law to protect Women - as they are already included in Statute Law. Under Federal Law, Title 18 USC - Criminal Law, too include "State Political Boundaries" and "Reservation" Boundaries are included in the Statutes. Yes. legislation may "enhance clarification", but the "Investigative and Prosecution Tools" are already in place by Statute Law. The US Attorney's Office, A State Department of Justice, and Local Law Enforcement have the capacity to legally pursue Investigation and Prosecution of a Case - even on a NAI Reservation, under a "Joint Legal Jurisdiction". By "legal Fiction, there is "NO GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD" although some may want to argue that. So before we rant & rave, "There Ought To Be A Law", there is one - just no one is using it !

Mai's picture
Mai
Submitted by Mai on
Dear mother's, daughters, and grandmothers can we meet and march together protect our earth, be the voices for the Wolf now...our children abandoned we now bring them close to our hearts . We will thank our Creator ask for protection over our earth, all our children from all nations...Can we march together in Washington DC all mothers and grandmothers....be the voice for Wolf Mother and make our voices heard for the voiceless. Petitions not enough, men are not handling this well.....mutilation, cruelty pups are dying in their dens motherless. We will command the killing stop , we will protect our earth. I don't know what else to do, so come to you,. Soon the wolf will not be protected at all....maybe it is the heart that needs to be heard at this moment...running out of time, pleading to women.
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