The tribal provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) have been making national news as Congressional leaders seek to find a common path forward. A possible way forward is within reach.
Now it's time for Congress to make even bigger news by passing a VAWA with the tribal criminal jurisdiction provision that would give tribes authority to prosecute all persons who commit domestic violence on tribal lands.
As members of NCAI's Violence Against Women Task Force work Capitol Hill this week, they need you to take action and make Indian Country's voice heard.
Call immediately and talk to Speaker Boehner's 202-225-0600 and House Majority Leader Cantor's office 202-225-2815 and emphatically urge them to "Be a hero and help pass a VAWA that includes ALL victims and survivors, including Native women. Your leadership can make this happen."
Let them know that a final VAWA that does not protect Native women and does not hold perpetrators accountable is unacceptable. Read NCAI's resolution stating our position to not support anything less.
Right now, House leadership is in talks with VAWA's Senate and House champions to discuss VAWA. There is a path to bipartisan passage that protects and provides justice for all victims - including Native American women. Our country must stand to protect all victims. Under current law, Native victims face dire and life-threatening violence on Tribal lands at the hands of non-Native offenders who cannot be prosecuted by tribal courts.
Members of NCAI's Violence Against Women Task Force are in DC this week meeting with lawmakers in person and calling for action. Read NCAI Violence Against Women Taskforce co-chair, Terri Henry's recent Op-Ed, outlining the issue.
It's important for us to remind members of Congress that Indian Country is common ground on political issues, and the trust responsibility has no party affiliation.
VAWA has bipartisan support and in recent days, dozens of Republican members of Congress have offered real solutions and solid support for the provisions that include all victims. Last week, Congressmen Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Tom Cole (R-OK) introduced H.R. 6625, a stand-alone bill which contains compromise language to address Republican concerns that the tribal jurisdiction over non tribal defendants is unconstitutional. These good faith efforts to find common ground and a path forward must not be dismissed. Also, yesterday a letter was sent by a group of bi-partisan members of Congress calling on Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor for action on a comprehensive VAWA.
CALL immediately to Speaker Boehner's 202-225-0600 and House Majority Leader Cantor's office 202-225-2815 and strongly urgeHouse Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker Boehner to seize the moment and get this bill done with the compromise tribal jurisdictional provisions intact. This is their opportunity to be leaders in all of this and we are prayerful and optimistic that they will put politics aside and pass a VAWA inclusive of those thus far left behind. House leadership needs to hear loud and clear that now is the time to pass a VAWA for all victims-Native women included. And they need to also hear that a VAWA which does not protect Native women and does not hold perpetrators accountable is unacceptable.
All victims of violence - including Native Women - cannot afford to wait another year for justice.
NCAI Contact Information: Katy Tyndell, Staff Attornery - firstname.lastname@example.org