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The Rise of Tribes and the Fall of Federal Indian Law
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Mary Hudetz: Slow moving justice for women in Indian Country

Filed Under: Law | National
More on: crime, jurisdiction, mary hudetz, naja, tloa, tribal courts, vawa, women

Mary Hudetz, the president of the Native American Journalists Association, says the Tribal Law and Order Act and S.47, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, still don't fully protect Native women from violence:
Even with the laws now passed, legal loopholes remain and the wait for justice for Native women continues, in part because VAWA, the newer of the two laws, won’t take effect until next year on most reservations, including the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Even then, tribes must have implemented a series of steps that many might not already have in place and could pose large legal costs.

One of these steps, for example, includes ensuring tribal judges have appropriate credentials they might not already have, said Troy Eid, a former U.S. Attorney for Colorado who this past year chaired the Justice Department’s Tribal Law and Order Commission.

“It’s going to be a while before these changes take place on many reservations,” he said. “And there is going to be a lot of waiting while these issues unfold.”

One of those waiting is Willetta Dolphus, who runs a woman’s shelter, The Pretty Bird Woman House, on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. She isn’t sure when the protections provided by VAWA will hold weight for the women she serves. And she notes that as waiting continues, the perceived threat of violence is rising in her area, given the energy boom in the region that has brought an influx of oil workers and man camps to the plains of the Dakotas.

“We’re anxiously waiting and just wish it didn’t take so long,” said Dolphus. “But we’re glad there’s work in place also. We got some hope anyway.”

Beyond the wait for the law’s start date and legal red tape for nearly all 566 federally recognized tribes, there are also limits that remain for Native communities in the justice system.

Get the Story:
Mary Hudetz: New federal laws help, but still don’t fully protect Native American women from violence (The Washington Post 6/13)

Related Stories:
Man pleads not guilty for death of woman from Standing Rock (6/12)
DOJ supports bill to include Alaska tribes in VAWA jurisdiction (6/12)

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