ALBUQUERQUE – New Mexico tribal leaders, tribal court personnel and those who work with domestic violence and sexual assault victims in tribal communities will gather next week to discuss laws and changes in the laws affecting prosecution of its members and non-Native Americans.
The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW) will host the Second Annual Tribal Leaders Summit, Coordination, Collaboration: Change, at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa on June 22-23.
“Some of the highest rates of domestic abuse and sexual assault in the country are happening to Native women, with most happening within tribal jurisdiction,” said Deleana OtherBull, CSVANW Executive Director. “This summit will bring federal, state and tribal representatives together to address the unique challenges they face in New Mexico.”
Forty six percent of Native American women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by a partner in their lifetime, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. Nearly three out of five Native American women have been assaulted by their spouses or intimate partners, according to a regional survey conducted by University of Oklahoma researchers.
Several changes to federal laws regarding tribal prosecution in domestic violence cases, such as the Tribal Law and Order Act and the Violence Against Women Act, have taken place in recent years. In March, a provision in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2013 allowing tribes to prosecute non-Native Americans if tribes adopted certain stipulations went into effect. Stipulations include having law-trained judges, access to public defenders, a public display of the tribe’s VAWA laws and recorded criminal proceedings.
Only three tribes in the U.S. have implemented these laws through a pilot project. Among the tribes that have adopted the enhanced sentencing authority, the implementation has varied, considering prosecution and incarceration costs, tribal traditions and cultural punishment, in addition to interpretation of the laws as it applies to the individual tribes. In New Mexico, the Navajo Nation is actively examining the VAWA policy changes and the cost of implementation.
During the summit, federal and state representatives will discuss exploring ways that VAWA and the Tribal Law and Order Act can assist tribal leaders in policy decision-making. A panel of tribal court chief judges and chief justices will also discuss violence in their respective communities. Additionally, the summit will include a panel of youth who will share how violence has affected their lives and their families.
For more information about the Tribal Law and Order Act and the VAWA, go towww.csvanw.org/tribal-summit-briefing.htm. For more information about the 2nd Annual Tribal Leaders Summit, go to www.csvanw.org.