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April 2013 Policy Update

April 8, 2013

Violence Against Women Act

Last month we were celebrating the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.  This month we’re seeing a clearer picture of implementation of the act.  This legislation is historic, as the act recognizes tribal court jurisdiction (for a good overview read here andhere).  However, Alaska Native communities are specifically excluded from VAWA because the provisions provide for tribal court jurisdiction on reservations only and only 1 of the 229 federally recognized tribes in Alaska has a reservation (Metlakatla).  This means that Alaska Natives are subject to State jurisdiction.  There is quite an argument happening right now about what this means. It remains to be seen how this will work out.

Despite this landmark legislation, Sequestration may hamper implementation of VAWAbecause of the mandatory 5% budget cut in all federal programs. To learn more about implementing VAWA the National Congress of American Indians and the Tribal Law and Policy Institute are hosing a webinar about VAWA on April 5th, 2013. You can learn morehere and resister here.

Sequester:

Sequester continues to be the topic of conversation in the media.  Indian Country Today Media Network recently did a story on all the stories about sequester and Indian Country. The New York Times talked about it in the recent editorial  “The Sequester Hits the Reservation.”  Mark Trahant is producing the best reporting work on the topic.  His work is prolific and informed.  A collection of his writings can be found here.  He’s also started a Facebook Page that is very informative, Indian Country and Austerity.  Finally, Indianz.com has collected stories here.

The effects of Sequester are already being felt in Indian Country So far, the following agencies are already being hit, including Bureau of Indian Education Schools, Tribal Law enforcement, and Indian Health Services; the latter taking a much bigger hit than was expected at 5% across the board.  The press is just starting to report actual Sequester impacts in communities.  Alaska’s Native communities are being hit hard with job losses and a reduction in many services.  Here’s a selection of over 100 stories on effects of Sequester on all American communities from HuffPo; remember, many of these services being cut are also serving our Native urban population.