UC Law Constitutional Quarterly


Dayna Olson


Native American women face violence at astronomically high rates compared to any other ethnic group in the United States. These staggering statistics are laregly the result of conflicting criminal jurisdiction between tribal, state, and federal prosecutors. As a result, crimes of intimate partner violence that take place on tribal reservations often go unpunished, leaving these women with little to no recourse. In 2013, President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. This landmark legislation created the Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction, which gave Native American tribes the authority to prosecute a narrow set of non-tribal members for specific crimes of intimate partner violence. While this enhanced jurisdiction modestly improved the lives of Native American women, this legislation imposes substantial limitations and, in effect, is only one small stepping-stone towards ensuring justice and safety for Native women. This Note posits that increasing state and tribal collaboration to “fill in the gaps” left behind by VAWA would be far more beneficial to Native women, both to skirt some of the constitutional pitfalls of VAWA, and to provide the justice that is so urgently needed.