JUNEAU, AK– The Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) applauded Senator Lisa Murkowski and her three colleagues for introducing the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA) to the U.S. Senate last week.
The bill is finally moving forward after nearly a year since the U.S. House of Representatives passed the reauthorization of VAWA with Alaska specific provisions championed by Representative Don Young.
The legislation brought forward to the Senate is the result of strong bipartisan work and includes a tribal title that reflects years of input from tribal communities and work with tribal advocates to ensure Alaska tribes are given the tools and resources necessary to address the disproportionate rate of violence against Alaska Native people. It includes key tribal provisions to provide resources focused on preventing violence, protecting victims, supporting survivors, and holding perpetrators accountable for their violent crimes committed.
“The proposed legislation is critical to ensuring Alaska Native and American Indian women, children and families are provided the safety and resources they need,” shared President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson. “We are encouraged the Senate is considering this legislation that will remove barriers and fully recognize the inherent authority of tribes to strengthen criminal justice response systems in our communities to protect our people.”
The bill not only proposes to expand federal resources and access to data available to tribes, but will also allow a limited number of tribes in Alaska to exercise special tribal criminal jurisdiction under an Alaska Tribal Public Safety Empowerment pilot project on a concurrent basis with the State of Alaska.
“We are excited to see the Senate has finally taken up the reauthorization of VAWA and the bill introduced includes provisions for Alaska that are needed to protect the well-being and safety of our communities,” said First Vice President Catherine Edwards who also serves as co-chair of Tlingit & Haida’s Violence Against Women Task Force. “Our women, children and families are sacred and it’s time to undo the damage of colonial times. Our task force and especially our former Chief Justice Michelle Demmert worked tirelessly to bring us to this moment.”
Tlingit & Haida urges all tribal citizens and allies to contact their senators to support this vital legislation.