Law | National | Politics

Alaska Natives seek more authority in domestic violence cases





With domestic violence rates at epidemic levels, Alaska Natives say they shouldn't be treated differently than tribes in the lower 48.

Studies show that Alaska Native women are the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault at rates far higher than the general population. But tribes in Alaska lack authority to prosecute non-Indians and their courts are often treated as less than equal by the state government.

"No one can argue the population that is hardest hit by family violence is Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Hands down. It's an epidemic," David Voluck, a tribal judge, told Alaska Dispatch.

The Senate attempted to address the issue by recognizing the authority of tribal courts to prosecute non-Indians for domestic violence offenses. But sometime between November 2011, when S.1925 was introduced, and February 2012, when the bill was cleared for the floor, Alaska tribes were excluded from the provision.

"Why would they not want Alaska tribes to have the ability to detain or order the arrest -- even if it's by the troopers -- of someone who was beating a tribal member?" Natalie Landreth of the Native American Rights Fund told the Dispatch.

Alaska's two Senators say they will look to address the issue in the future.

Get the Story:
Federal bills offer little hope to Alaska villages with high rates of family violence, sexual abuse (Alaska Dispatch 5/28)

Related Stories:
Tulalip Tribes vice chair shares personal story for VAWA debate (05/23)
BIA disputes Republican report on Violence Against Women Act (5/18)
The Votes: Crossing party lines on Violence Against Women Act (5/18)
Opinion: Native women deserve protection from their abusers (5/18)
Tribes slam weakened version of Violence Against Women Act (5/17)
House approves version of VAWA bill without tribal provisions (5/17)
GOP bill report questions data on crime against Indian women (5/16)
White House raises veto threat against Republican VAWA bill (5/16)
House to debate Violence Against Women Act reauthorization (5/15)
Editorial: Going backward on the Violence Against Women Act (5/15)
Jodi Gillette: Restore tribal court authority in VAWA measure (5/14)
Jefferson Keel: Tribal jurisdiction doesn't violate Constitution (5/14)
Robert Porter: Tribal jurisdiction in VAWA bill protects rights (5/8)
Suquamish Tribe walk raises awareness of domestic violence (5/2)
Sen. Kyl: Tribal provisions in VAWA bill violate US Constitution (5/1)
Levi Rickert: Victory for Native women in VAWA Senate vote (4/30)
Senate backs reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act (4/27)
Tulalip Tribes vice chair pushes for reauthorization of VAWA (4/26)
Sen. Tom Udall floor statement on tribes and VAWA measure (4/26)
Obama administration against Alaska tribal VAWA exclusion (4/26)
APRN: Alaska Natives angry about exclusion from VAWA bill (4/26)
Opinion: Republican VAWA amendment dangerous for tribes (4/26)
No explanation for Alaska Native exclusion from VAWA bill (4/25)
White House reaffirms support for tribal provisions in VAWA (4/24)
Alaska Natives excluded from tribal jurisdiction in VAWA bill (4/24)
Opinion: GOP roadblock to the Violence Against Women Act (4/23)
Speech by Attorney General Eric Holder at VAWA event (4/18)
Sho-Ban leader joins Vice President Biden at VAWA event (4/16)
Editorial: Set aside politics for Violence Against Women Act (03/22)
Blog: Senate Republicans fight Violence Against Women Act (3/21)
Democrats push for action on Violence Against Women Act (3/15)
Opinion: Violence Against Women Act helps Indian women (3/15)
Turtle Talk: Republicans fighting Indian provisions in VAWA (3/12)
Rep. Betty McCollum co-sponsors SAVE Native Women Act (3/8)
Sen. Hatch opposes bill provisions to protect Native women (3/7)