Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), center left, is joined by Native women, tribal leaders, advocates and other members of Congress at a rally for the Violence Against Women Act at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2019. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

RECAP: Sovereignty and Native Women's Safety at US Capitol

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Braving brutal temperatures and high humidity, Native women rallied at the U.S. Capitol last week to honor survivors of violence and to push for renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.

The 2013 version of VAWA included landmark provisions that recognize the inherent sovereignty of tribes to arrest, prosecute and sentence non-Indians who abuse their partners. The law was written to address high rates of victimization of Native women, accounting for statistics which show that most offenders are of another race.

"We know that VAWA helps keep Native women safe," Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna who is one of the first two Native women in Congress, said last Wednesday.

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Sovereignty and Native Women's Safety - U.S. Capitol - September 11, 2019

But the law does not protect Native women from trafficking or sexual assaults, for example, and it doesn't cover crimes against children and tribal law enforcement. It does not address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women or Native women living in urban areas either.

H.R.1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, closes some of the gaps in protection by expanding tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians. The bill, which passed the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on April 4, also takes first steps in responding to the #MMIW crisis and to victimization of urban Indians.

"Have the laws changed?" asked Darla Black, the vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, after describing herself as a "victor" over domestic violence. "Nothing today has changed."

The Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate, however, have refused to take up H.R.1585 despite strong support for the measure in Indian Country. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation vowed to help get it across the finish line.

"All VAWA is about, from a tribal standpoint, is giving our people the tools to protect our vulnerable citizens and to enforce justice on our own lands," said Cole, who was one of the few members of his party who voted for the bill in April. [Roll Call 156: On passage of H.R.1585, Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act]

You can get a social media recap of the rally, which was organized by the National Congress of American Indians and the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center, below. You can also listen to it on the Indianz.Com SoundCloud.

The event lasted about 45 minutes. Parts of it were broadcast by the staff of Congresswoman Haaland. [VIDEOS: VAWA Celebration | VAWA celebration of Native women survivors]

VAWA Celebration

Posted by Congresswoman Deb Haaland on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

VAWA celebration of Native women survivors

Posted by Congresswoman Deb Haaland on Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
House panel questions officials on efforts to help Native women (September 13, 2019)
House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples convenes hearing on #MMIW crisis (September 11, 2019)
Appeals court decision affirms tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians (August 29, 2019)
RECAP: Trump administration unprepared for hearing on #MMIW and tribal jurisdiction bills (June 19, 2019)
Witness list for Senate hearing on Indian Country safety legislation (June 18, 2019)
Key lawmakers renew efforts to protect Native women from violence (June 13, 2019)
Protections for Native women in limbo amid party divisions in Congress (May 22, 2019)
Bill John Baker: The Not Invisible Act is vital to the safety of Native women (May 8, 2019)
AUDIO/VIDEO: Democrats call for action to address #MMIW crisis (May 7, 2019)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin: Bipartisan bill protects Native women and girls (May 7, 2019)
YES! Magazine: Indigenous communities take action for missing and murdered (April 22, 2019)
Leader of Jicarilla Apache Nation stepped down after remarks about 'loose women' (April 12, 2019)
Navajo Nation in mourning after body of 4-year-old missing girl is found (April 4, 2019)
House adds more Indian Country provisions to Violence Against Women Act (April 3, 2019)
'Not one more': Native woman laid to rest after going missing in urban area (April 1, 2019)
House moves closer to passage of Violence Against Women Act (April 1, 2019)
'What she say, it be law': Tribes protected their women before being stripped of sovereignty (March 25, 2019)
National Museum of the American Indian hosts 'Safety for Our Sisters' symposium (March 21, 2019)
'An abomination': Republicans try to strip tribal jurisdiction from Violence Against Women Act (March 18, 2019)
Advocates call for funding, data to find missing, murdered Native women (March 18, 2019)
Native women leaders lined up for hearing on missing and murdered sisters (March 12, 2019)
'It could be me': Native American teen teaches self-defense to keep indigenous kids safe (March 11, 2019)
House subcommittee schedules hearing on missing and murdered indigenous women (March 8, 2019)
Native Sun News Today: Pipeline opponents and advocates warn of dangers of man camps (March 8, 2019)
Cronkite News: Attention finally being paid to missing and murdered sisters (March 6, 2019)
MSU News: Powwow dedicated to missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (March 4, 2019)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation celebrates the women who make us strong (March 4, 2019)
'Shameful': Congress fails to take action on missing and murdered Indigenous women (January 10, 2019)
Another tribe asserts authority over non-Indians as VAWA remains in limbo (December 7, 2018)
High Country News: It's business as usual for crime on tribal lands (November 29, 2018)
Trump administration argues against tribal sovereignty in Supreme Court case (November 27, 2018)
Another tribe asserts authority over non-Indians as VAWA remains in limbo (November 2, 2018)
Trending in News
More Headlines