SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 was enacted in response to the epidemic of violence against Native women. Under VAWA, tribes could exercise their sovereign power to investigate, prosecute, convict and sentence both Natives and non-Natives who assault Indian partners or violate a protection order in Indian country. VAWA 2013 also clarified tribes’ sovereign power to issue and enforce civil protection orders.
Sault Tribe Board of Directors approved changes to the Tribal Code Chapter 70: Criminal Procedure at its Dec. 13 meeting, adding four new sections to the chapter that enable Sault Tribe Law Enforcement and Tribal Court to investigate and prosecute domestic violence committed by non-Indians on Tribal lands.
Unit 1 Director Jennifer McLeod said, “I am so proud and grateful.” McLeod has participated in the Intertribal Technical-Assistance Working Group on Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction since 2013. “Through the efforts of many tribal departments and team members we have at last joined the list of tribes who have taken important steps of sovereignty that protects our women!”
Sault Tribe is mostly equipped for VAWA, said Chief Judge Jocelyn Fabry. “The court has the prosecuting attorney, law-trained judge, probation staff, indigent defense attorneys, advocates and law enforcement needed to implement VAWA,” she said.
Nine other tribes in the U.S. have implemented VAWA, including two in Michigan.