1. Update
  2. Native Americans

Victory: The Violence Against Women Act Passes House with Tribal Provisions

By Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco , April 4, 2019

On April 4, the House passed H.R. 1585, a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This is a significant win, especially for Native American women!

The last time VAWA was reauthorized it included critical provisions for Native American women, including the Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction. This allowed for the legal recognition of tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians for crimes of domestic violence committed on tribal lands. Since most assaults against Native American women occur at the hands of a non-Indian assailant, this provision is crucial for the protection of Native women. However, the protection it offers tribal communities is extremely limited as it only relates to incidences of domestic violence.

The bill that just passed in the House—H.R. 1585—expands tribal jurisdiction to include sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking, child abuse and violence against tribal law enforcement attempting to execute these provisions. It goes one step further in addressing the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, by facilitating improved communication and coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement. It will also strengthen our understanding of this crisis by increasing data collection and improving tribal access to resources and federal databases.

Multiple amendments presented by Reps. Don Young (AK-01), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), and Deb Haaland (NM-01) strengthened the tribal provisions of HR. 1585. Together their amendments assured that Native children and elders are also protected from violence. Natives victims in urban communities will have access to victim services and resources. Alaska Natives will also be able to have tribal jurisdiction within their villages. Law enforcement agencies will be held accountable for responding to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

The passage of H.R. 1585 is a huge win for all Native people! FCNL thanks Congress for supporting and strengthening safety within Native communities and all of you for you for your persistent advocacy.

Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco

  • Congressional Advocate, Native American Advocacy Program

Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco managed the Native American Advocacy program from 2017-2019. In that capacity she lobbied on legislation that affects Native communities and built connections between tribes, tribal organizations, and non-Indian allies, particularly among a wide range of faith groups, to ensure tribal needs were addressed.