The Nevada Progressive observes Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) is dawdling about with Team TeaParty in Congress in regard to the Violence Against Women Act. Rather than accept the bipartisan provisions of the Senate version, Team TeaParty wants to water down the bill so that domestic violence rules don’t apply to lesbian partners, and so non-Tribal men who rape or abuse Native American women don’t have to face justice in Tribal Courts. “The Republican War on Women Hits the Rez” pointed out eight bits of GOP fear-mongering misinformation which are easily debunked. Perpetrators of violence against Native American women have simply and completely run out of excuses for not trying to alleviate the unacceptably high numbers of crimes against women on Tribal lands.
Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) is trying to have his cake and munch it down too. He basks in his sponsorship of the watered-down House version (H.R. 4970) saying:
“I heard from tribes in my district, including the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Council, the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe, and the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe about this issue and I can assure them that this bill would not only provide increased funding for federal law enforcement and prosecutors to pursue these cases, it would also empower Indian victims to seek protective orders in U.S. District Courts against abusers.” [Amodei] (emphasis added)
Clever little footwork here! Notice that H.R. 4970 does NOT grant tribal courts jurisdiction over cases in which a Native American woman has been raped, assaulted, or abused by a non-tribal person. What would be wrong, exactly, with the Washoe Tribal Court, or the Fort McDermitt Tribal Court, or the Fallon Tribal Court… or any other Tribal Court having jurisdiction over crimes committed against tribal members on tribal lands?
What do Representatives Heck and Amodei think of Tribal Courts? Do they believe that Tribal Courts are ‘amateur hour,’ ‘kangaroo sessions?’ Tribal Courts are governed by the same rules as Article III courts in this country. Extending jurisdiction to ALL crimes against women perpetrated on tribal lands would ease the burden on the federal courts, but Congressmen Heck and Amodei appear to prefer throwing money at the problem rather than expand the role of the tribal courts. Representative Amodei has made it clear that he prefers “increasing funding for federal law enforcement,” and granting the power to issue protection orders to federal courts, than to allow Tribal Court jurisdiction over non-Tribal criminals.
Make no mistake about it, S. 1925 is the REAL re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The diluted, discriminatory, and dilatory House version is the one which Representative Amodei is so quick to embrace.
Both Republican Representatives from Nevada would better serve their Native American constituents by recognizing the legitimacy of Tribal Courts and extending more understanding of the problems associated with violence against Native American women. S. 1925 is the bill which deserves support.