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RECAP: Sovereignty And Native Women’s Safety At US Capitol

Above Photo: Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), center left, is joined by Native women, tribal leaders, advocates and other members of Congress at a rally for the Violence Against Women Act at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2019. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Braving brutal temperatures and high humidity, Native women rallied at the U.S. Capitol last week to honor survivors of violence and to push for renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.The 2013 version of VAWA included landmark provisions that recognize the inherent sovereignty of tribes to arrest, prosecute and sentence non-Indians who abuse their partners. The law was written to address high rates of victimization of Native women, accounting for statistics which show that most offenders are of another race. “We know that VAWA helps keep Native women safe,” Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna who is one of the first two Native women in Congress, said last Wednesday.

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Sovereignty and Native Women’s Safety – U.S. Capitol – September 11, 2019

But the law does not protect Native women from trafficking or sexual assaults, for example, and it doesn’t cover crimes against children and tribal law enforcement. It does not address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women or Native women living in urban areas either.H.R.1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, closes some of the gaps in protection by expanding tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians. The bill, which passed the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on April 4, also takes first steps in responding to the #MMIW crisis and to victimization of urban Indians.“Have the laws changed?” asked Darla Black, the vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, after describing herself as a “victor” over domestic violence. “Nothing today has changed.”The Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate, however, have refused to take up H.R.1585 despite strong support for the measure in Indian Country. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation vowed to help get it across the finish line.“All VAWA is about, from a tribal standpoint, is giving our people the tools to protect our vulnerable citizens and to enforce justice on our own lands,” said Cole, who was one of the few members of his party who voted for the bill in April. [Roll Call 156: On passage of H.R.1585, Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act]You can get a social media recap of the rally, which was organized by the National Congress of American Indians and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, below. You can also listen to it on the Indianz.Com SoundCloud.The event lasted about 45 minutes. Parts of it were broadcast by the staff of Congresswoman Haaland. [VIDEOS: VAWA Celebration | VAWA celebration of Native women survivors]

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