Brian Schatz and Lisa Murkowski
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), left, and Sen. Brian Schatz (R-Hawaii) serve as vice chair and chair, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Photo: SCIA
Draft version of ‘Safety for Indian Women’ released by Senate committee leaders
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Indianz.Com

A draft discussion of legislation to help tribes protect Native women has been released by the leaders of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs ahead of a hearing on the critical issue.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), the chair of the committee, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the vice chair, are seeking further comments from Indian Country on the draft, titled “Safety for Indian Women.” A similar section was included in the 2013 version of the Violence Against Women Act.

“Nearly a decade ago, the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 restored Tribal jurisdiction over domestic violence crimes, recognizing Tribes’ right to exercise their authority and giving them resources to go after criminals,” Schatz said in a news release on Wednesday.

“Since then, we’ve heard from Native communities on how we can strengthen VAWA to fully empower Tribal governments and protect Native people,” Schatz said. “Our bipartisan discussion draft gives Native communities more tools to fight domestic violence crimes and keep Native women, children and families safe. I am thankful for Vice Chairman Murkowski’s partnership in this important work.”

“Native women are overrepresented by nearly 250 percent among domestic violence victims in Alaska, yet one in three communities in rural Alaska have no local law enforcement,” said Murkowski. “Tribes in Alaska need to be empowered to exercise special tribal criminal jurisdiction on a pilot basis.”

“We recognize and appreciate the jurisdictional complexities in Alaska and affirm the concurrent jurisdiction of the State of Alaska over these covered crimes,” said Murkowski. “The release of the bipartisan discussion draft is an important step toward ending violence against Native women in Alaska and in Indian Country. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this critical effort as the legislative process advances.”

Comments on the 39-page draft can be submitted to draft_title_comments@indian.senate.gov by December 22.

Press Release: Murkowski, Schatz Work to Improve the Safety of Native American Women
The following is the text of a December 8, 2021, news release from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Vice Chairman of the SCIA, released draft legislation of a tribal title aimed at improving the safety of Native women in Indian Country and Alaska Native Villages. This bipartisan discussion draft reflects tribal stakeholder input over years of Committee oversight and legislative activity on public safety in Indian Country and Alaska Native communities, including work of the Chairman and Vice Chairman’s offices to jointly examine and find solutions to address violence against Native people and restore justice to their communities. In 2013, the SCIA was instrumental in securing inclusion and enactment of the bipartisan tribal title that authorized the special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction in the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 (VAWA).

“Nearly a decade ago, the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 restored Tribal jurisdiction over domestic violence crimes, recognizing Tribes’ right to exercise their authority and giving them resources to go after criminals,” said Chairman Schatz. “Since then, we’ve heard from Native communities on how we can strengthen VAWA to fully empower Tribal governments and protect Native people. Our bipartisan discussion draft gives Native communities more tools to fight domestic violence crimes and keep Native women, children and families safe. I am thankful for Vice Chairman Murkowski’s partnership in this important work.”

“Native women are overrepresented by nearly 250 percent among domestic violence victims in Alaska, yet one in three communities in rural Alaska have no local law enforcement. Tribes in Alaska need to be empowered to exercise special tribal criminal jurisdiction on a pilot basis,” said Vice Chairman Murkowski. “We recognize and appreciate the jurisdictional complexities in Alaska and affirm the concurrent jurisdiction of the State of Alaska over these covered crimes. The release of the bipartisan discussion draft is an important step toward ending violence against Native women in Alaska and in Indian Country. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this critical effort as the legislative process advances.”

Click HERE to view the tribal discussion draft.

Chairman Schatz and Vice Chairman Murkowski asks for input from the public on this bipartisan discussion draft. All comments are due by December 22, 2021 at: draft_title_comments@indian.senate.gov. Any comments will be shared with all members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

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