Congress Moves on the 2009 Tribal Law and Order Act

On Thursday, December 10th, the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing to discuss the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009, for which AIUSA was invited to submit written testimony. The bill, a close approximation of the early Senate draft of the bill, would make crucial and desperately needed reforms in tribal justice systems, helping to address the epidemic of sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women and girls.

Over the last few years, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) has worked to document the disconcerting realities of law enforcement in Indian Country, especially as they impact the capacity and ability to prevent and respond to sexual violence against women and girls. Our research found that Native American and Alaska Native women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the United States in general. In recent months, as both the House and Senate have made headway in pushing their respective bills through committee, it seems that Congressional leaders are finally realizing the true urgency of reforming tribal law enforcement.

Both bills would make crucial steps in ensuring justice in Indian Country. These bills mandate and create structures for improving communication, transparency, and data sharing between tribal, state, and Federal agencies, increase tribal prosecutorial authorities, expand and emphasize the importance of data collection and analysis, and call for the US Attorney General’s Office to document cases it refuses to prosecute. The bills also require training for law enforcement personnel on how to respond to domestic and sexual violent crimes and require Indian Health Services to improve services for victims of sexual assault.

As the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 has gained visibility and support within Congress, President Obama seems to have taken note as well and appears to be actively following through on this issue that was not only a campaign promise, but a critical platform of his presidential campaign. On November 5th, the President cemented his support of the TLOA at the groundbreaking Tribal Nations Conference,

I also strongly support the Tribal Law and Order Act, and I thank Chairman Dorgan and Representative Herseth-Sandlin for their leadership on this issue. And I look forward to Congress passing it so I can sign it into law.

At the Conference, which was attended by representatives of hundreds of federally recognized tribes, Obama signed a long-awaited memorandum directing every Cabinet agency to submit, within 90 days, a detailed plan with strategies to improve and ensure regular and meaningful consultation and coordination with tribes.

This post was contributed by Angela Chang and Alexandra Robinson.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

5 thoughts on “Congress Moves on the 2009 Tribal Law and Order Act

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  2. Dear Juliette Rousselot,

    Thank you & Amnesty for speaking out about the "disconcerting realities" in Indian country & the continuing reign of rape & murder under which Native women live.

    But the reason i thank you all is the very reason i must vehemently disagree with your report & its description of Obama's socalled "Tribal Nations' Conference", which you in your — ignorance ? — heedlessness ? — call "groundbreaking".

    How is it you speak of this socalled "conference" without even consulting the views of the traditional peoples who went unrepresented there ?

    "Groundbreaking" ? It was a conference in exactly the same old way the white man has always sidelined & coldshouldered the traditional peoples at these staged events since the days of Sitting Bull, no even earlier, since the very first conferences when spineless "sachems" went to such shows to get worthless gifts in exchange for their peoples' future & inheritance.

    The "federally recognised tribes" were here, you said. Today, do you know, the Native peoples are denouncing this conference, saying it was a very "calculated" show, where peoples & groups were carefully invited & as carefully IGNORED & KEPT OUT, DELEGITIMIZED & DENIED THEIR RIGHTFUL PLACE as Native Nations. Throughout Indian country the traditionals are saying this day that the very way people were awarded & denied invitations to this "conference" was the age old splittist way by which this entire continent was robbed from them in the first place.

    At this "conference" Obama signed a "longawaited memorandum", you say ? Native public opinion is utterly disgusted at the way the selectively invited tribal yesmen went hat in hand &, ignoring the true concerns of their peoples, instead begged during their allotted 2 minutes for the same old government funds they always beg for, while totally ignoring the burning issues weighing down upon the minds of the peoples throughout Indian America : Leonard Peltier, health, education, Leonard Peltier, radiation contamination stripmining corporate Earthrape landtheft Leonard Peltier Native Sovereignty Treaties the Black Hills Leonard Peltier the militarization of the Rio Grande border, the establishment of new US Army bases in colombia aimed against the sovereignty of the Indian Nations of South America…

    This "conference", Indian public opinion rightly says, is finally aimed at seducing Indian youth into joining the US Army in its imperialist new wars in Afghanistan Waziristan Iraq….

    If Obama's really serious about justice for Native Nations, Native traditional public opinion challenges, let him prove it then: by freeing Leonard Peltier, restoring the Black Hills to the Lakota Nations, recognizing the sovereign status of the Navajo & Hopi traditionals on their own lands, & demilitarizing the Rio Grande border.

    At this "Native" "conference", the Indians saw the white man sitting as he's always sat : Hogging the stage & staring down upon the Indians.No, Ms Roussellot & Amnesty, Native traditional peoples don't hold "conferences" in this topdown, manipulative, divisive manner & then call it a "groundbreaking""Native Conference". And so long as the traditional Indian cultural ways of working & processing such matters will be violated, so long will such sham shows be always empty of all meaning throughout these Native Americas. And the political heirs of Pontiac & Tecumseh & Sitting Bull will continue to work to arrive at consensus in their own Ways.

  3. Dear Juliette Rousselot,

    Thank you & Amnesty for speaking out about the “disconcerting realities” in Indian country & the continuing reign of rape & murder under which Native women live.

    But the reason i thank you all is the very reason i must vehemently disagree with your report & its description of Obama’s socalled “Tribal Nations’ Conference”, which you in your — ignorance ? — heedlessness ? — call “groundbreaking”.

    How is it you speak of this socalled “conference” without even consulting the views of the traditional peoples who went unrepresented there ?

    “Groundbreaking” ? It was a conference in exactly the same old way the white man has always sidelined & coldshouldered the traditional peoples at these staged events since the days of Sitting Bull, no even earlier, since the very first conferences when spineless “sachems” went to such shows to get worthless gifts in exchange for their peoples’ future & inheritance.

    The “federally recognised tribes” were here, you said. Today, do you know, the Native peoples are denouncing this conference, saying it was a very “calculated” show, where peoples & groups were carefully invited & as carefully IGNORED & KEPT OUT, DELEGITIMIZED & DENIED THEIR RIGHTFUL PLACE as Native Nations. Throughout Indian country the traditionals are saying this day that the very way people were awarded & denied invitations to this “conference” was the age old splittist way by which this entire continent was robbed from them in the first place.

    At this “conference” Obama signed a “longawaited memorandum”, you say ? Native public opinion is utterly disgusted at the way the selectively invited tribal yesmen went hat in hand &, ignoring the true concerns of their peoples, instead begged during their allotted 2 minutes for the same old government funds they always beg for, while totally ignoring the burning issues weighing down upon the minds of the peoples throughout Indian America : Leonard Peltier, health, education, Leonard Peltier, radiation contamination stripmining corporate Earthrape landtheft Leonard Peltier Native Sovereignty Treaties the Black Hills Leonard Peltier the militarization of the Rio Grande border, the establishment of new US Army bases in colombia aimed against the sovereignty of the Indian Nations of South America…

    This “conference”, Indian public opinion rightly says, is finally aimed at seducing Indian youth into joining the US Army in its imperialist new wars in Afghanistan Waziristan Iraq….

    If Obama’s really serious about justice for Native Nations, Native traditional public opinion challenges, let him prove it then: by freeing Leonard Peltier, restoring the Black Hills to the Lakota Nations, recognizing the sovereign status of the Navajo & Hopi traditionals on their own lands, & demilitarizing the Rio Grande border.

    At this “Native” “conference”, the Indians saw the white man sitting as he’s always sat : Hogging the stage & staring down upon the Indians.No, Ms Roussellot & Amnesty, Native traditional peoples don’t hold “conferences” in this topdown, manipulative, divisive manner & then call it a “groundbreaking””Native Conference”. And so long as the traditional Indian cultural ways of working & processing such matters will be violated, so long will such sham shows be always empty of all meaning throughout these Native Americas. And the political heirs of Pontiac & Tecumseh & Sitting Bull will continue to work to arrive at consensus in their own Ways.

  4. Gramoz Prestreshi:

    Every individual human being matter.

    I was Persecuted back home in Kosovo-former Yougoslavia 2 years ago.
    I lost so much in my life my family,my everything i had. Is been almost 7 years and i never heard a word from my family and i know how much it hurts and i don't want to see People going thorough the same thing and even worst for what GOD give it to me my Freedom my Life.

    Persecution is a very strong word, why someone such as me has to hope still for my freedom It's a much stronger word than 'discrimination.' It's when somebodies life or liberty is in great jeopardy by the government, or forces that the government can't or will not control, for a protected reason, like sexual orientation.

    I kept my wits I had photographs taken of my injuries.I saved every article. When my family disowned me,I joined a gay rights organization and slept in my office. Often, even in countries where legal help is available theoretically, social hostility to homosexuals can overshadow their formal rights. Kosovo, for example,use to governed under a postwar U.N. mandate. It has laws banning discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation but abuses and crimes were only increasing.They broke my nose, they cut my neck with a knife and … they paralyzed my friend's hand.

    The most shocking fact about war is that it's victims and its instruments are individual human beings, and that these individual beings are condemned by the monstrous conventions of politics to murder or be murdered in quarrels not their own.
    Discrimination still permitted in our society, discrimination based on sexual identity or orientation.

    Publicly we were known to the press,Unfortunately, that even caused more negative attention for us.I was brutally beaten again. And my friend Lorik felt like he could not go on,He killed himself with pills and alcohol together. Because he couldn't push his life to live you people can't imagine what it's like to be in one room, and not be able to go outside even a sec.And of course the only Future which we saw it was TO DIE.

  5. Gramoz Prestreshi:

    Every individual human being matter.

    I was Persecuted back home in Kosovo-former Yougoslavia 2 years ago.
    I lost so much in my life my family,my everything i had. Is been almost 7 years and i never heard a word from my family and i know how much it hurts and i don’t want to see People going thorough the same thing and even worst for what GOD give it to me my Freedom my Life.

    Persecution is a very strong word, why someone such as me has to hope still for my freedom It’s a much stronger word than ‘discrimination.’ It’s when somebodies life or liberty is in great jeopardy by the government, or forces that the government can’t or will not control, for a protected reason, like sexual orientation.

    I kept my wits I had photographs taken of my injuries.I saved every article. When my family disowned me,I joined a gay rights organization and slept in my office. Often, even in countries where legal help is available theoretically, social hostility to homosexuals can overshadow their formal rights. Kosovo, for example,use to governed under a postwar U.N. mandate. It has laws banning discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation but abuses and crimes were only increasing.They broke my nose, they cut my neck with a knife and … they paralyzed my friend’s hand.

    The most shocking fact about war is that it’s victims and its instruments are individual human beings, and that these individual beings are condemned by the monstrous conventions of politics to murder or be murdered in quarrels not their own.
    Discrimination still permitted in our society, discrimination based on sexual identity or orientation.

    Publicly we were known to the press,Unfortunately, that even caused more negative attention for us.I was brutally beaten again. And my friend Lorik felt like he could not go on,He killed himself with pills and alcohol together. Because he couldn’t push his life to live you people can’t imagine what it’s like to be in one room, and not be able to go outside even a sec.And of course the only Future which we saw it was TO DIE.