One in three Native American women will be raped at least once in her lifetime. And that’s why President Obama’s signing of the Tribal Law and Order Act today is so vital. Tribes will now have the right–and the resources–to investigate and prosecute rapes perpetrated by non-Natives on tribal lands.
Because until today, Native women raped by a non-Indian assailant had virtually no recourse. With rare exceptions, only federal law enforcement authorities have had jurisdiction to arrest and prosecute non-Native offenders on tribal lands. And historically, federal authorities have cared little about such cases: Federal authorities routinely decline to prosecute more than 50 percent of all violent crimes committed in Indian Country; the rate of declination is much higher for sexual assault cases.
Today that will change. The Tribal Law and Order Act will substantially expand tribal jurisdiction over non-Native offenders for crimes of sexual violence, and providing desperately needed resources to tribes to help them prosecute such cases. Introduced in 2009 in the House by Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD) and in the Senate by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), the legislation is a watershed in tribal law. Provisions include:
• Deputizes tribal police to arrest and prosecute non-Natives who commit crimes on tribal land
• Provides tribal police with access to National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and other federal databases containing criminal records and other information
• Requires the Department of Justice to maintain records on all declinations and to share that information, as well as any evidence, with tribal authorities
• Requires federal officials to turn over to tribal authorities any documents and testimony that may aid tribal court prosecutions
• Raises the maximum sentence that tribal courts can impose on an offender from one to three years
• Provides tribal police with targeted training in evidence collection and interviewing of sexual and domestic violence survivors
• Requires the Indian Health Service (IHS) to implement consistent protocols at all facilities for treating sexual assault survivors
• Reauthorizes and enhances programs to support tribal police, courts, and corrections programs
• Provides programs for at-risk young people on reservations.
I heard about this fucking bullshit on NPR over a year ago and have talked about doing a documentary about it because up until today, when our awesome president signed this law, those motherfucking rapists have been getting away with it. They’ve been ruining these young girls’ and women’s lives and deserve to rot in jail for it – in a cell with “Bubba”.
(Guest blogger – Staci)
I’ve heard many anecdotes regarding the reluctance of the Black community to get behind the LGBT people and their fight for rights. Generally, these supposed reasons are assumed to be based in religion and adherence to the scripture. We’ve been chastised, ridiculed and even endured attempts at shame – to motivate movement towards their belief that gay rights equates to civil rights. Here is the issue for me and many that I know. To compare the challenges that gay people endure to the atrocities that Black people experienced, borders on insult. Any possible compassion flies right out the window when someone is attempting to convince us that these are two concepts with a common basis. How can they possibly be on the same plane? People who are gay have not experienced the systematic challenges that the black community faced for hundreds of years. How can one use the same argument when you self identify as gay, but one glance identifies ethnicity? At what point in time was it punitive to teach a gay person to read or have that same person recognized as 3/5th of a person and in fact, to be referred to as cattle and/or property and sold as such? How many families have been broken up and sold apart because of sexual identification?
I fully understand that there are some asshole folks out there that get their “fun” antagonizing people strictly due to sexual orientation, but generally, there is no risk of loss of life. Conversely, there was a time in history where this same “fun” ended the life of a black person and instilled enough fear to make entire families pack up and move under the cloak of darkness.
To my friends in the gay community that are trying to change minds and hearts – maybe think about changing your methods. Most people understand fair vs. unfair and can get behind it. To say that not having the right to marry somebody of the same sex is the same as the rights to equal and fair housing, education or the rights to be treated as a human being, will only continue to alienate the support that may be gained with a different argument.