Murkowski bill aims to protect Alaska Native women
A new bill introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski aims to help tribes protect and defend Alaska Native women. A pilot program under the bill would allow certain Alaskan tribes jurisdiction over everyone in their village, including non-natives. According to Murkowski's office, the Alaska Tribal Public Safety Empowerment Act would expand the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 (VAWA) now available in Indian Country to Alaska Native villages.
Murkowski's bill addresses the high rate of domestic violence and rape against Alaska Native women and how many remote areas don't have local law enforcement. It recommends developing authority in Alaska Native community governments, giving them the jurisdiction to arrest, prosecute and punish.
The pilot program would allow the attorney general to choose five tribes or groups of tribes that would have civil and criminal jurisdiction over "all individuals present in the village."
VAWA also opens up grants in Indian country for training of both law enforcement and prosecutors, as well as other protections for victims. According to a National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) report VAWA has helped tribes fight the high rates of domestic violence against Native women.
By: Jennifer Summers