A Republican-controlled House
committee adopted a report on Tuesday that questions long-held statistics on domestic violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women.
The Obama administration and tribes have repeatedly cited Department of Justice
studies that show most perpetrators of domestic violence against Indian women are non-Indian.
The data is being used to justify the restoration of tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians.
But in a report that accompanies H.R.4970
a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, the House Judiciary Committee
claims the data is flawed.
points to a 2008 study by former South Dakota attorney general Larry Long, a noted foe
of tribes on land-into-trust, jurisdiction, voting rights, sovereignty and other issues.
"In meetings with committee staff, both the Justice Department and Indian tribe representatives acknowledge that the non-Indian DV offender statistics previously relied upon as justification for granting tribes criminal jurisdiction of non-Indian defendants are
flawed," the House report states.
Long's study, however, was unique to South Dakota, where the majority of the Indian population resides on reservations. Most, but not all, reservations in the state are also majority Indian.
As a result, crimes like domestic violence and sexual assault are more likely to be committed by fellow Indians, Long acknowledged. That's not the case in most other states where non-Indians outnumber Indians in and around reservations.
"In the rural context within and around Indian country, American Indian violent victimization rates tend to be opposite of the urban setting," Long wrote.
Long's study included data from the state justice system. He found that Indian victims were 37 percent of all first and second-degree rape victims despite being only 8.3 percent of the population, a rate comparable to what DOJ has found.
But since most of the crimes in South Dakota involved Indian offenders on reservations, they end up in the federal system. As a result, the data that Long examined from the U.S. Attorney's Office reflects nearly exclusively Indian-Indian crime patterns.
Related Stories:House to debate Violence Against Women Act
(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
(5/14) Robert Porter:
Tribal jurisdiction in VAWA bill protects rights
(5/8) Suquamish Tribe walk raises awareness of domestic
(5/2) Sen. Kyl: Tribal
provisions in VAWA bill violate US Constitution
(5/1)Levi Rickert: Victory for Native women in VAWA
(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
(4/26) APRN: Alaska Natives
angry about exclusion from VAWA bill
(4/26) Opinion: Republican VAWA amendment dangerous for
(4/26) No explanation for Alaska
Native exclusion from VAWA bill
(4/25) White House reaffirms support for tribal provisions
(4/24) Alaska Natives excluded
from tribal jurisdiction in VAWA bill
(4/24) Opinion: GOP roadblock to the Violence Against
(4/23) Speech by Attorney
General Eric Holder at VAWA event
(4/18) Sho-Ban leader joins Vice President Biden at VAWA
(4/16) Editorial: Set aside
politics for Violence Against Women Act
(03/22) Blog: Senate Republicans fight Violence Against
(3/21) Democrats push for
action on Violence Against Women Act
(3/15)Opinion: Violence Against Women Act helps Indian
(3/15) Turtle Talk: Republicans
fighting Indian provisions in VAWA
(3/12) Rep. Betty McCollum co-sponsors SAVE Native Women
(3/8) Sen. Hatch opposes bill
provisions to protect Native women
Join the Conversation