Support Amending Section 904 to delete “Indian country” to ensure the inclusion of all tribes in Alaska
Both Section 904 of VAWA 2013 and the Supreme Court’s decision in Venetie must be addressed. It is unacceptable that the 228 federally recognized tribes in Alaska are the only tribes excluded from VAWA 2013’s jurisdictional provision.
President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act in March 2013, which included the tribal provision Section 904 recognizing the exercise of inherent tribal authority over non-Indian domestic violence offenders. The language “Indian country” is included in Section 904. In 1998, in Alaska v. Venetie, Alaska Native Villages, the Supreme Court issued a decision declaring that “Indian country” no longer exists in Alaska. The Supreme Court’s eradication of “Indian country” in Alaska in its 1998 decision in Venetie, combined with Section 904’s invocation of the words “Indian country,” leave 228 tribes in Alaska without any restoration of tribal jurisdiction.
If the inclusion of Indian country within Section 904 truly was a “drafting error,” then there should be no resistance to immediately making the correction by removing these two words in Section 904 altogether to give our Alaska Native women the same protections as our Native sisters in Metlakatla and the Lower 48 Tribes.
Read more about the implications of VAWA 2013’s elimination of Alaska:
AFN Resolution to Protect Alaska Native Women.
Lynn Hootch 2014 Tribal Consultation Testimony 11.14
Watch Lynn Hootch and Joann Horn in a documentary about the survival of Native women in Alaska, Daughters of Emmonak
- Alaska is home to 229 or 40% of federally recognized tribes; one Native villagebased off road women’s shelter (the Emmonak Women’s Shelter, operating since 1979); and one tribal nonprofit domestic violence and sexual assault coalition (the Yup’ik Women’s Coalition operating since 2006).
- Less than 100 of Alaska’s 200 plus rural villages are served by local, trained State law enforcement officers, many of whom are in need of culturally appropriate training on how to work with tribes and Native people within the villages.
- Although Alaska Native Peoples comprise about 17% of the State of Alaska’s population, we comprise about 50% of victims of domestic violence and about 62% of Sexual Abuse.
- On average, in 2003-2004, an Alaska Native female became a victim of reported sexual assault or of child asexual abuse every 29.8 hours, as compared to once every 46.6 hours for non-Native females. Victimization rates, which take account of underlying population proportions, are even more dissimilar: the rate of sexual violence victimization among Alaska Native women was at least seven times the non-Native rate.
- Between 2007-2007, Alaska Natives were 2.5 times more likely to die by homicide than Alaskans who reported “White” as their race, and 2.9 times more likely to die by homicide than all Whites in the United States.
Lenora (Lynn) Hootch
Lenora Hootch’s Statement on Why Alaska Native Women Deserve Justice
Lynn is a Yupik Eskimo and an enrolled member of the Alaska Native Village of Emmonak, located in the Yukon Delta Region of southwestern Alaska. She was born, raised and has lived in her Village all of her life and is an active member of the community. Lynn has held numerous elected positions in her community, including Emmonak Tribal Council, Emmonak City Council, Vice Mayor for the Village of Emmonak, member of the Parish Council, and Advisory School Board member. She has also served as an officer and a board member for many women’s organizations in Alaska, including the Alaska Native Women’s Coalition and the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Lynn is a founder of the Emmonak Women’s Shelter, a non-profit, grass roots organization founded in 1979 to increase safety for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other forms of abuse, and to provide emergency shelter and assistance for these women and children.
Lynn currently serves as the Director for the Yupik Women’s Coalition, a regional tribal coalition that raises public awareness of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and/or dating violence, enhances the response to violence against Native women at the local, state and national levels, and provides technical assistance to other tribes in Alaska to enhance access to essential services for Native women victimized by domestic violence and sexual assault.
Lynn is married and the mother of five beautiful children, three boys and two girls, and a grandmother to two girls who bring life, joy, happiness and love to all.
My name is Joann Horn. I am Yup’ik Eskimo from the Village of Kotlik. I moved to the Village of Emmonak in the late 1970s. I am a survivor of domestic violence which is why I’ve spent the rest of my life helping other women. In the 1980s, I began working as a relief advocate, helping women and children.
Later, as rural outreach coordinator, I traveled outside to the villages, educating the communities about domestic violence and our shelter service. I am now Shelter Director, managing and developing shelter operations and advocacy service, and working closely with the Yup’ik Women’s Coalition and Lenora Hootch to advocate for changes in policy, law, and services to deal with violence against Native women, especially in rural, remote, under-resourced Native villages.
I have been married for thirty years, and we have five beautiful children, and seven beautiful grandchildren. I obtained my high school diploma and my certificate of rural human services at the University of Alaska, Kuskokwim Campus.
Tamra (Tami) Truett Jerue
Tamra Truett Jerue’s Statement on Why Alaska Native Women Deserve Justice
Tamra "Tami" Truett Jerue is a long time Alaska Native woman’s advocate and lives in the Athabascan village of Anvik, Alaska along the Yukon River. Currently, she works as the Director of Social Services for the Anvik Tribal Council. Tami has worked in various capacities on violence against Native women issues since 1977, helping to facilitate change at a community level, within systems, and families to help survivors live violence free lives.
Priscilla S. Kameroff: I serve as the President of the Board of Directors for the Emmonak Women’s Shelter and the Yup’ik Women’s Coalition for the past several years. I have eleven years experience working in the human services field with the Native Village of Emmonak as the Indian Child Welfare Worker. This involves working closely with Office of Children’s Service when they come out to the Village to do investigations with children that may have been harmed, or were in a home that is not safe.
I received a certificate in May 2010 in the Rural Human Services from KUC in Bethel, and my degree in Associate of Applied Science in Human Services in May 2012.
My passion is supporting our local women’s shelter. Growing up as a young child, we have seen things such as domestic violence done to our women. It was never talked about. Everyone kept silent. The violence was swept under the rug and kept there.
Nettie J. Warbelow is the ICWA Coordinator for the Native Village of Tetlin an Advocate for DV/Sexual Assault. She was born in Alaska and was raised in the Village of Tetlin, Alaska where she was raised traditionally, with her grandmother teaching her the essentials of the Athabascan culture and language. Nettie is fluent in the Tetlin Athabascan dialect, and is a strong supporter and advocate of Culture preservation. Nettie has worked in the field of Social Services for Child protection, ICWA, Advocate for DV/Sexual Assualt, SART Trained, State Court Proceedings and Tribal Court for over 20 years. She was involved during the passage of the ICWA law for Alaska. Nettie was involved in developing the Native Village of Tetlin Written Code of Tribial Ordinances. She also is an expert with Ex parta for her clients with the Court systems. Nettie has demonstrated many task from Tetlin Tribal Council Liaison, Grantwriter, Workshop Facilitator, Tribal Court Clerk, Tetlin Corporation Secretary, State Social Service Associate to Foster Care/Adoption. Nettie Served on many boards throughout her years advocating for people. Nettie also loves working with the youth. Her passion is Community Healing through holistic culture and traditional teachings. Nettie has one daughter Sadie Rose, who is close to her heart.
Nettie Warbelow’s Statement on Why Alaska Native Women Deserve Justice