Council amends VAWA to prosecute non-Indians
Tribal Councilor Frankie Hargis reads an amendment to titles 21 and 22 of the Cherokee Code Annotated regarding the Violence Against Women Act during the May 14 Tribal Council meeting in Tahlequah. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – During the May 14 Tribal Council meeting, legislators unanimously amended titles 21 and 22 of the Cherokee Code Annotated, regarding the Violence Against Women Act.
The amendment “authorizes special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit domestic violence, dating violence, or a violation of a protection order.”
The amended Title 22, Section 70 gives the Cherokee Nation special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over a non-Indian defendant under certain circumstances, including if the offender resides or is employed within the CN jurisdiction or is a spouse, intimate partner or dating partner of a CN citizen or Indian who lives within the CN.
Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez said the act’s impact on women is the knowledge that women will be valued, treated with respect and empowered going forward.
“I voted for the VAWA to be enforced because it’s the right thing to do. Cherokee Nation leads all tribes in profitable businesses, education and health care in Native Country, and we should be the leader when it comes to the safety of our women and children,” she said.
In conjunction, the Tribal Council also amended Title 12 of the Cherokee Code Annotated regarding the Civil Protective Order Act.
The amendment gives the CN District Court full civil jurisdiction to issue and enforce protection orders if an act of domestic violence occurred within the CN boundaries. However, the amendment states that jurisdiction is not authorized over parties who are both non-Indian.
The amendment also states the District Court has the authority to enforce any orders by civil contempt proceedings, excluding violators from Indian land and other appropriate procedures in matters that arise within the CN jurisdiction or within CN authority according to CN law.
In other business, Councilors authorized the “execution of certain contracts that preserve sovereign immunity,” which allows CN to enter into certain contracts more efficiently.
Legislators also passed a resolution accepting land from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, which will allow permanent access and tribal upkeep of the road entering Sequoyah’s Cabin and Museum in Sequoyah County.
The Tribal Council also amended the CN comprehensive operating budget for fiscal year 2018, increasing it by $5.9 million for a total budget of $693.1 million.
Steven E. Barrick was also reappointed to the CN Gaming Commission.