Washington, DC – The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) applauded today’s long-awaited Senate introduction of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA). The bill represents a significant step forward in providing Native American communities with the support and resources needed to address the ongoing crisis of violence on tribal lands.
The Senate’s bipartisan reauthorization bill (S. 3623), led by Senators Lisa Murkowski (AK), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Joni Ernst (IA), and Dick Durbin (IL), would expand tribal criminal jurisdiction. This expansion would include jurisdiction over child, dating, domestic, and sexual violence; sex trafficking; coercion; stalking; violations of protection orders; obstruction of justice; and assault of tribal justice personnel.
The bill also establishes an Alaska Pilot Program to address the unique jurisdictional needs of Alaska Native villages and reauthorizes the Tribal Access Program with $6 million in funding, doubling the support provided in the last reauthorization of VAWA.
“The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 is critical legislation to address the tragedy of violence facing tribal communities and support their search for justice,” said FCNL General Secretary Bridget Moix. “We applaud the introduction of this bill and call for its swift passage.”
VAWA was first passed in 1994 to address violence and sexual assault by providing resources and services for public safety and for survivors. The law is especially significant for tribal nations, where cases involving murder or sexual assault frequently go unprosecuted.
VAWA was last reauthorized in 2013 and expired in 2018. The 2013 reauthorization restored limited special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction to some tribes so they could prosecute non-Natives who committed domestic violence, dating violence, or violated protection orders on tribal lands. In March 2021, the House passed its own reauthorization bill (H.R. 1620) by a vote of 244–172.
“Thanks to the restoration of tribal jurisdiction in the last reauthorization of VAWA, violent offenders are finally being held accountable for the harm they are causing Indigenous families,” said Portia K. Skenandore-Wheelock, FCNL’s congressional advocate for Native American policy. “But children and tribal law enforcement officers deserve the same protections. Passing VAWA with strong tribal public safety measures is critical to protecting and saving lives.”
To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.