Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Righting a wrong on tribal land

Tribes will finally be able to prosecute nonmembers who commit sexual assault on reservations


March 31, 2022

Alex Wong, TNS

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin speaks as, from left, Sen. Joni Ernst, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence President Ruth Glenn, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Susan Collins listen during a news conference at the Capitol in February.

The Violence Against Women Act, which provides a broad array of protections to victims of sexual violence, never should have been allowed to lapse in 2019. Thankfully, that wrong has been righted as part of the larger spending bill recently passed by Congress. Within it is a reauthorization of the act along with five years of funding.

But there's more that's especially important to the nation's Native American tribes. The legislation rights a historic and grievous wrong against them. After 44 years, the bill restores the authority tribes have long needed and sought to prosecute nonmembers who commit acts of sexual violence against Native women, children and men on tribal land.

Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, chief author of the provision that restores those rights, said the 1978 Supreme Court decision, Oliphant vs. Suquamish Indian Tribe, stripped tribal courts of their ability to prosecute non-Indians.


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