Indian Country Today: Tribal nations are celebrating the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act.

Congress passed the omnibus spending package for the 2022 fiscal year late Thursday, which included major tribal provisions. It passed in the Senate with a 68-31 vote. The bill will now head to the president’s desk to be signed.

This means that tribal nations “will continue to increase safety and justice for victims who had previously seen little of either,” said Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians in a statement.

Here is a breakdown of the VAWA reauthorization:

  • Reaffirmation of tribes’ jurisdiction to prosecute non-Native perpetrators of sexual violence, sex trafficking, stalking, child violence, and obstruction of justice
  • Gives tribes authority to prosecute non-Natives who assault tribal law enforcement officers
  • Tribal nations in Maine and Alaska can exercise tribal jurisdiction under the act
  • Non-Native defendants must exhaust all tribal court remedies
  • Funding for and ensuring tribes can access national crime information systems via the Tribal Access Programs
  • Increased resources for tribes “to exercise Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction and establish a reimbursement program to cover tribal costs”

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