Senator Lisa Murkowski responded to my column originally posted on The Anchorage Daily News.
“It’s incredibly important to clear up the confusion created by Shannyn Moore’s piece today — and I want Alaskans to hear it directly from me. The amendment she misconstrued focused on tribal jurisdiction over non-Natives who are accused of domestic or sexual assault on reservation land. Of Alaska’s 229 federally-recognized tribes, Alaska only has one reservation: Metlakatla. My amendment was introduced to spell out in no uncertain terms that Metlakatla would receive the same rights and jurisdiction granted to Lower 48 reservations. It was inclusive language, not what Ms. Moore suggested — and it received praise from the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska.
Secondly, I cannot agree more that sexual and domestic violence is a blight on our state, especially in rural areas, and that what we are doing is not enough. This is why the other language I included in the bill — but was not mentioned — was to reestablish and authorize funding for the Alaska Rural Justice and Law Enforcement Commission to provide a permanent forum for the tribes, the state, and the federal government to work together on rural safety issues. Yes, I said ‘fund.’ Fiscal discipline is necessary to restore a sustainable future for our nation, but funding rural justice efforts is work that I will fight for as our people are losing their futures through abuse and despair.
I am discouraged by Ms. Moore’s research and I am disheartened by the attempt to score partisan points on an issue that should be above politics.”
Natalie Landreth, an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund pointed out that Senator Murkowski’s bill just enforced the status quo of protections that aren’t working for too many of our Alaskan sisters.
Almost 100 tribes oppose what the Senator has done. Read this press release – it’s crystal clear.
Here’s the language for the not-so-special-let’s-just-keep-the-status-quo rule:
SEC. 910. SPECIAL RULE FOR THE STATE OF ALASKA.
(a) Expanded Jurisdiction- In the State of Alaska, the amendments made by sections 904 and 905 shall only apply to the Indian country (as defined in section 1151 of title 18, United States Code) of the Metlakatla Indian Community, Annette Island Reserve.
(b) Retained Jurisdiction- The jurisdiction and authority of each Indian tribe in the State of Alaska under section 2265(e) of title 18, United States Code (as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this Act)–
(1) shall remain in full force and effect; and
(2) are not limited or diminished by this Act or any amendment made by this Act.
(c) Savings Provision- Nothing in this Act or an amendment made by this Act limits or diminishes the jurisdiction of the State of Alaska, any subdivision of the State of Alaska, or any Indian tribe in the State of Alaska.
Last year, the Department of Justice addressed the “drafting error” that just happened again this year. As reported by Indian Country Today Media:
“The Department of Justice sent its proposal for VAWA tribal provisions to Congress last July,” Allison Price, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice, told Indian Country Today Media Network. “Those provisions were of nationwide scope and did not exclude any state or any set of tribes.
“To ensure the safety of Native women, it is critically important that tribal courts in Alaska and throughout the United States retain full civil jurisdiction to issue and enforce protection orders,” Price added.
That sounded reasonable. The Obama administration wanted ALL women protected.
The article states: “Earlier in the month (April 2012), the Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska passed a resolution opposing the Senate bill’s language that tribal leaders say “discriminates against Alaska Native families.” The same people who appreciated being the protections of Lower 48 tribes this year had to fight Murkowski on it last year. So, one out of 229 are pleased.
As far as Murkowski’s assertion that I didn’t research or that I’m using this issue for partisan points? Twenty-two members of the Senate, all in her party voted against the VAWA.
Her party held up the passage of the bill which hadn’t been partisan before.
The federal government was fine with giving jurisdiction to Alaskan tribes. Murkowski nixed that. Governor Sean Parnell treats our rape statistics like a marketing problem. The “Choose Respect” campaign is merely re-branding a devastating problem. What is your solution, Senator? Who can respond to Alaskan women in crisis? Do we call Bono and ask for a telethon? What ever it takes to make sure there is a responding entity to deal with whomever the perpetrators are.
Stop blocking progress by ensuring the status quo – where are your solutions?