Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement today on the House passage of S. 47, the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation recognizes the jurisdiction of tribal courts over non-Indian offenders arrested for committing domestic violence or assault against women.
Under current law, non-Indians accused of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes against tribal members can only be prosecuted by the federal government and some states, but the U.S. Attorneys and District Attorneys do not have the time or resources to dedicate to these cases. With 75 percent of reported instances of abuse of native women being committed by non-Indians, tribal nations are in desperate need of alternatives to address this crisis.
"Tribal authorities will finally have the same ability to police and protect their land that all other local jurisdictions already enjoy. The absence of adequate judicial and legal authority given to tribes has made reservations places where domestic violence and sexual assaults are all too common. Hunters know where to hunt; fishermen know where to fish. And predators know where to prey. The passage of the Violence Against Women Act gives tribes badly needed tools to combat the epidemic of violence and abuse in Indian Country," Cole said.