English communication in Graz, Austria
Last week in one of my classes we were discussing the issues facing American Indians on reservations, such as poverty and alcoholism. Tragically, there is another issue we neglected, which caught my attention while reading up on the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.
Because tribes exercise a certain degree of self-government, not all U.S. laws apply to them (which is why, for example, they can build casinos in states that outlaw gambling). The newest draft of the Violence Against Women Act, which provides funds for investigating cases of domestic violence and rape, has a clause including reservations in its purview, extending powers to their courts. However, there is still a lot of resistance in Congress to extending this power to the tribal lands:
But in the House, Republican negotiators are still struggling over a 10-page section that would, for the first time, allow Native American police and courts to pursue non-Indians who attack women on tribal land. Supporters and opponents of the language acknowledge the plight of women like Ms. Millich. Native American women are two and a half times more likely to be raped. One in three will be assaulted, and three out of five will encounter domestic violence, said Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico.
You can read the rest of the article here. (I will keep my part brief, as my knowledge of the inner workings of reservation law are basically non-existent!) To me this seems like another example of the impossible situation American Indians have been put in by the government. But what do you think?
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These women should be protected by VAWA–because somebody needs to protect them. But, alas, Congress will find anything to prove that the act shouldn’t be renewed or should have 9,000 rules and exceptions that make it impossible to enforce.