Navajo President Ben Shelly Supports Domestic Violence Bill

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Contact: Jared King
Navajo Nation Washington Office
T 202.682.7390
C 202.200.0625
jking@nnwo.org
www.nnwo.org

For Immediate Release

Navajo President Ben Shelly Supports Domestic Violence Bill 

Opposes Increased State Jurisdiction 

WASHIGNTON – Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly is committed to the tribal criminal jurisdiction provisions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011, S 1925, is expected to hit the Senate floor this week. Substitute Amendments may be introduced that would strip the bill of the tribal provisions in title IX or give jurisdiction over non-Indian on Indian crimes of domestic violence to states.

“Crimes of domestic violence have a terrible effect on the lives and communities of the Navajo people. Empowering Navajo courts and law enforcement to deal with the problem of domestic violence locally is an important tool for bringing our communities back into harmony, and for maintaining law and order within the Navajo Nation,” President Shelly said.

Extending state jurisdiction was an element of Federal Indian policy in the late 1940s and 1950s. During this era, the Federal government sought to assimilate Indians into mainstream American society and end special services and benefits to tribes.

Under current federal law, non-Indian on Indian crime falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal government. This principle is also found in the Treaty of 1868, in which the federal government committed itself to the arrest and punishment of “bad men… according to the laws of the United States.”

“I oppose any legislation that would diminish the Federal government’s trust responsibilities, or its responsibilities under the Treaty of 1868; and any legislation that would diminish the sovereignty of the Navajo government over the territory of the Navajo Nation,” President Shelly added.

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