Bill allows Maine tribes to follow VAWA jurisdiction provisions

A sign at the Pleasant Point Reservation in Maine. Photo from Facebook

A bill introduced in the Maine Legislature recognizes the right of tribes to follow the Violence Against Women Act.

Landmark provisions of S.47, the 2013 reauthorization of VAWA, recognize tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian domestic violence offenders. But Maine tribes are in a unique situation due to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act.

As a result, the Penobscot Nation, the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point and the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township are seeking state approval to follow VAWA. The bill, LD 268 / HP 186, amends the settlement act to recognize their rights.

"In the last year on Indian Island, 83 percent of the victimization on Native women was committed by non-Native men," Patricia Graffam, a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, told Maine Public Broadcasting Network. "Because these incidents are on a reservation, the non-Native is able to slip through a legal system with unclear jurisdictions and is not prosecuted."

The Maine Legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill this afternoon.

Get the Story:
Maine Bill Would Give Tribal Courts Jurisdiction in Some Domestic Violence Cases (Maine Public Broadcasting Network 5/12)

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