Taskforce to Improve Responses to Violence Against Children in Tribal Communities

April 17th, 2013 Posted by

On Friday, Attorney General Holder outlined the initial steps to implement the recommendations of the department’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, part of the Defending Childhood Initiative.  Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West, Attorney General Eric Holder, OJJDP Administrator Robert Listenbee Jr., and Senior Juvenile Justice Policy and Legal Advisor Kathi Grasso

The Attorney General announced that Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West will oversee the creation of an American Indian/Alaska Native Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence.   The announcement was made at the new tribal task force during a quarterly meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which is administered by the Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Office on Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention.

The proposed task force will be a joint effort between the Departments of Justice and Interior and tribal governments. The task force will focus on:

  • Improving the identification and treatment of American Indian and Alaska Native children exposed to violence;
  • Supporting American Indian and Alaska Native communities and tribes as they define their own responses to this problem; and
  • Involving American Indian and Alaska Native youth in developing solutions.

The creation of the American Indian/Alaska Native Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence was one of 56 recommendations made by the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. The National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence presented its final report and recommendations to Attorney General Holder in December 2012.  The recommendations called for universal identification, assessment and treatment of children who witness or are victims of violence. They also called for training for professionals who work with children to identify and respond to trauma caused by violence.

The Justice Department will provide additional details on the implementation of the recommendations in the coming months. These efforts will build on the task force’s call to support and train professionals working with children, raise public awareness, build knowledge and increase department and federal coordination and capacity.

OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has six components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking.

Follow the Office of Justice Programs on Twitter at http://twitter.com/OJPgov.

For the Rights of All: Ending Jim Crow in Alaska

This documentary reveals the true-life story of an extraordinary Alaskan woman who becomes an unlikely hero in the fight for civil rights.

Program Length: 57  minutes Production Staff: Producer: Jeffry Lloyd Silverman Production Company: Blueberry Productions Format: DVD Website for For the Rights of All Additional Resources: Viewer Guide Public Broadcast Release: November 2009 Price: $29.95In the Alaska Purchase of 1867 the United States took on more than just the land. There were indigenous people living everywhere in Alaska. Like Native Americans in the lower 48, Alaska Natives struggled to keep their basic human rights as well as protect their ancient ties to the land. The Bill of Rights did not apply to them.

Through extensive reenactments and rarely seen historic footage and photographs, ‘For the Rights of All’ reveals these remarkable people and their non-violent struggle for civil rights. This extraordinary story bridges the Civil War to World War II to todayss Native leaders, who find inspiration in the efforts of the generations that preceded them.

Those efforts culminated in the passage of the Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, one of the first such laws passed anywhere in America, and ten years before Brown versus Board of Education. Of particular note is a young Tlingit activist, Elizabeth Peratrovich, whose dramatic testimony on behalf of the Act is fully reenacted in this film by Jeffry Lloyd Silverman. Narrated by Peter Coyote.

Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women #VAWA

Seal of the United States Department of Justice
Seal of the United States Department of Justice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the  Federal Advisory Task Force on Research on Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women Living in Tribal Communities

Washington, D.C. ~ Friday, March 8, 2013

Thank you, Bea, for that kind introduction and your leadership on this task force and in our Office on Violence Against Women.

It’s a great privilege to be here and on behalf of all of us at the Department of Justice, I want to thank all of you, for your dedication to addressing violence against Native American women.

We have had a lot to celebrate the last couple days, and yesterday I was proud to witness President Obama sign the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act into law.   The reauthorization not only includes the provisions that Vice President Biden fought so hard for 20 years ago to protect all women, but it also includes the critical tribal jurisdiction provisions to help Indian tribes combat violence against Native women.   From the time non-Indians first came to this continent, and right up through the founding of our Nation, Indian tribes routinely exercised authority over all individuals who committed acts of violence on Indian lands.   In 1978, in the Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe case, the U.S. Supreme Court took that power away, holding that tribes lacked criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians, absent express authorization from Congress.   Last week, thanks largely to your efforts, we got that authorization, and now perpetrators of domestic and dating violence will be held accountable, whether they’re Indian or non-Indian.   And countless Indian women will enjoy safer lives as a result.

I know that no one has fought harder for Native American women than the people in this room and serving on this Task Force, so I congratulate you on this landmark occasion.

Now, our challenge, our collective challenge, is to make sure that this new law is well implemented.   This is important for at least three reasons.   First, it will benefit public safety.   Second, it will protect the legitimate rights of the accused.   And third, it will maximize our ability to protect this law from challenge.   So we’ve already begun to meet with tribes to talk about how we can best prepare tribal judicial systems for successful implementation.

This is also a great chapter in our government-to-government relationships.   You and your colleagues raised these issues with Senator Obama when he was running for President in 2008, and you raised it with Justice Department officials in a long series of formal and informal tribal consultations.   And we heard you, and we took action – just as the President promised more than four years ago.   In July 2011, the Department proposed the very language that, with a few tweaks, has now been enacted by Congress.   And every step of the way, we profited from the strength of tribal leaders and Federal officials, working hand in glove, in a true partnership.

Over the last four years, this Administration has cultivated that partnership, and under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, we at the Justice Department have worked hard to strengthen tribal sovereignty and improve tribal safety.   We have established the Office of Tribal Justice as a permanent component within the Justice Department.   We’ve created the Tribal Nations Leadership Council to facilitate consultation and advise the Attorney General on issues critical to tribal governments.   Under the leadership of Leslie Hagen, we’ve launched a National Indian Country Training Initiative, which has trained more than 2,000 criminal-justice professionals.   And we’ve assigned additional federal personnel to investigate and prosecute cases on Indian lands, including a dozen FBI Indian Country Victim Specialists.

So we’ve made some excellent progress.   While we celebrate the past and current successes, we must also look toward the future.   Our work in Indian country is far from over, and if we’re to build on that progress and tackle the uniquely difficult challenges that tribal communities still face, we cannot rest.

We cannot rest as long as crime rates in many tribal communities remain far above the national average.   We cannot rest as long as tribal members suffer disproportionately from violence, property offenses, and other criminal acts.

As I have stated many times in the past, there is an urgent need for more and better research, evaluation, and data, and the Department is committed to making this happen.

At the heart of our research efforts is NIJ’s research program on violence against women that will collect information from enrolled American Indian and Alaska Native women living in Indian country and Alaska Native villages.   This is the first comprehensive national research program of its kind.   NIJ’s groundbreaking program of research aims to achieve the mandates outlined in the the 2005 reauthorization of VAWA to decrease the incidence of violent crimes against Indian women; to strengthen the capacity of Indian tribes to exercise their sovereign authority to respond to violent crimes committed against Indian women; and to ensure that perpetrators of violent crimes committed against Indian women are held accountable for their criminal behavior.

Once again, I would like to thank each Task Force member for your participation. Your expertise and insights are invaluable, and this partnership–much like our partnership in the reauthorization of VAWA with critical tribal jurisdiction provisions–has been pivotal to developing, and now, implementing this much needed program of research.

American Indian poverty today

SOURCE: http://www.census.gov

American Indian and Alaska Native Poverty Rate About 50 Percent in Rapid City, S.D., and About 30 Percent in Five Other Cities, Census Bureau Reports

The poverty rate for American Indians and Alaska Natives in Rapid City, S.D. (50.9 percent) was around three times the rate in Anchorage, Alaska (16.6 percent) and about 30 percent or greater in five other cities most populated by this group (Gallup, N.M.; Minneapolis; Rapid City, S.D.; Shiprock, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Zuni Pueblo, N.M.), according to American Community Survey data collected from 2007 to 2011 by the U.S. Census Bureau. [See figure above.]

Nine states had poverty rates of about 30 percent or more for American Indians and Alaska Natives (Arizona, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah).

“With the American Community Survey, we can look at the poverty rates for even the smallest race and Hispanic-origin groups,” said Suzanne Macartney, an analyst in the Census Bureau’s Poverty Statistics Branch.

These figures come from Poverty Rates for Selected Detailed Race and Hispanic Groups by State and Place: 2007-2011, an American Community Survey brief that presents poverty rates by race and Hispanic origin for the United States, each state and the District of Columbia. For the nation and each state, poverty rates are summarized for the major race groups. For the nation, each state and selected places, poverty rates are summarized for American Indians and Alaska Natives,  detailed Asian groups with populations of 750,000 or more, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander groups with populations of 25,000 or more and Hispanic-origin groups with populations of 1 million or more.

Two race groups had poverty rates more than 10 percentage points higher than the national rate of 14.3 percent: American Indian and Alaska Native (27.0 percent) and black or African- American (25.8 percent). Rates were above the overall national average for Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (17.6 percent), while poverty rates for people identified as white  (11.6 percent) or Asian (11.7 percent) were lower than the overall poverty rate. Poverty rates for whites and Asians were not statistically different from each other.  The Hispanic population had a poverty rate of 23.2 percent, about nine percentage points higher than the overall U.S. rate.

Other highlights:

  • According to the 2007-2011 American Community Survey, 42.7 million people in the United States, or 14.3 percent, had income below the poverty level.
  • For the Asian population, poverty rates were higher for Vietnamese (14.7 percent) and Koreans (15.0 percent) and lower for Filipinos (5.8 percent). Poverty rates for Vietnamese and Koreans were not statistically different from each other.
  • For Asians, nine states had poverty rates below 10 percent (Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Virginia and South Carolina).
  • Among Hispanics, national poverty rates ranged from a low of 16.2 percent for Cubans to a high of 26.3 percent for Dominicans.

 To say we are free is not correct…with poverty rates this high, we are prisoners of ruthless capitalism and modern day slavery…Trace/Lara