President Obama Signs VAWA Reauthorization
Native American Legislative Update - March 2013
President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law at a ceremony at the Department of the Interior on March 7. The reauthorization includes long-sought provisions that recognize the authority of tribal governments to arrest and prosecute non-Indian perpetrators who commit domestic or sexual violence against an Indian woman on a reservation. It also includes new provisions to ensure that services for domestic violence victims are provided to all victims regardless of sexual orientation or immigration status.
President Obama emphasized the need for expanded tribal protections, saying, “Tribal governments have an inherent right to protect their people, and all women deserve the right to live free from fear. And that is what today is all about.” Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians, echoed Obama’s sentiments, saying, “Today represents a historic moment in the nation-to-nation relationships between tribes and the federal government. Now that the tribal provisions have been enacted and protection for all women reauthorized, justice can march forward.”
Tribal governments now begin the process of amending their legal codes to reflect the changes mandated by VAWA. Staff at the Department of Justice have met with tribal leaders about the implementation of these changes, which will take effect in two years.
See a video of President Obama’s remarks and the signing of the bill here: http://bit.ly/Y4zshp