The recent reauthorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act has some Alaska Native tribal groups upset, over provisions they say deny their villages the ability to protect families from domestic violence.
The act, which passed the U.S. Senate Tuesday on a 78-22 vote, will give states with smaller populations the same access to grants for victims, while providing support for fighting domestic and sexual violence.
One provision gives tribes nationwide the power to prosecute non-Indians for domestic-violence offenses that occur within the boundaries of their reservations. It’s a stipulation that doesn’t sit well on the Last Frontier, where only the Annette Islands Reserve in the Southeast Alaska community of Metlakatla qualifies as a reservation under the act.
The Association of Village Council Presidents, which represents 56 federally recognized tribes in Western Alaska, says Alaska tribes’ effective exclusion from receiving that new power leaves them unable to stop violent and unacceptable behaviors.
According to AVCP President Myron Naneng, in many domestic-violence cases it can take days for law enforcement to arrive in villages to make arrests -- and not much is done to stop offenders from acting again.
“They deal with (cases) at a court in Bethel or within our region, and a few days later that violator comes back to the village again as if nothing happens,” Naneng said.
Channel 2’s Corey Allen Young contributed to this story.
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