By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) introduced new legislation in the Senate that is aimed at fighting the problem of domestic violence and sexual assaults against American Indian Women. The Stand Against Violence and Empower (SAVE) Native Women Act (S. 1763) was introduced on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
“American Indian women suffer disproportionately from domestic violence and sexual assault, and the Violence Against Women Act must be updated to more effectively address their unique needs,” Sen. Akaka said in a statement. “This legislation works to ensure services are available to survivors of assault in native communities, repair a fragmented criminal justice system, and give tribes more power to prosecute those who are committing such heinous crimes against women.”
NCAI president Jefferson Keel told the crowd at the 68th Annual NCAI Convention in Portland, Oregon that his organization fully supports the legislation. “The epidemic rates of violence and sexual assault against Native women are tied directly to the limitations that the United States has placed on tribal authority to prosecute non-Native offenders. When perpetrators go unprosecuted, they are free to reoffend with impunity. This legislation aims to address these problems and enhance the safety of our women.”
One of the major points of the Act is the criminal jurisdiction of tribes. The Act will allow for tribes to “exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over all persons.”
The bill was co-sponsored by nine senators including: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash), Sen. Tom Johnson (SD), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT).