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No explanation for Alaska Native exclusion from VAWA bill

Sometime between November 2011 and February 2012, Alaska Natives were excluded from the tribal authority provisions of S.1925, a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

The bill was introduced on November 30, 2011. As written, Section 904 recognizes tribal authority over non-Indian domestic violence offenders while Section 905 recognizes tribal authority to enforce protection orders involving "any person," including non-Indian offenders.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved S.1925 by a party-line vote at a business meeting on February 2, 2012. The bill was reported to the Senate "with amendments favorably" and Alaska Natives were summarily excluded from Section 904 and Section 905.

It's not clear who drafted the language that excludes Alaska tribes. Even Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a co-sponsor of S.1925, doesn't know how it happened.

“Senator Murkowski is extremely concerned about this inadvertent drafting error and she is in the process of resolving the issue through the amendment process,” a spokesperson told Indian Country Today.

According to news reports, Murkowski and other members of Alaska's Congressional delegation will try to remove the Alaska Native exclusion from Section 905. Alaska tribes say VAWA currently recognizes their authority over protection orders.

But the exclusion in Section 904 is likely to remain intact. Alaska tribes have long been treated differently than tribes in the Lower 48 when it comes to jurisdictional issues.

Get the Story:
AFN opposes Violence Against Women Act favored in Lower 48 (The Anchorage Daily News 4/25)
Senate Women Safety Legislation to Exclude 40 Percent of Tribes (Indian Country Today 4/25)

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