Deborah Parker, vice-chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington state, was part of a group that came to D.C. the week of June 25 specifically to work Capitol Hill, pressing the flesh with legislators who might not understand the epidemic of violence that faces Indian women and families on some reservations. She said at a press conference on June 26 that she’s heard many recent stories from Native women whose abusers were never prosecuted because of lacking jurisdiction facing tribes under the original VAWA law. The stories mirror her own tale of personal abuse that she shared at a D.C. press conference before the Senate passed its legislation in April.
“I am a survivor of sexual and physical violence,” Parker said through tears then, explaining how her abuse began when she was a toddler by “a man who had no boundaries for a little child’s life.” The man was never convicted, she shared, imploring the tribal protections be made U.S. law. She said such protections could change the lives of today’s Native women and children so they never have to face an ordeal like hers.
Theresa Sheldon, a legislative policy analyst with the Tulalip Tribes, said that the delegation does not want to see a VAWA bill passed into law “by throwing out the provisions and throwing under the bus the Native American women.” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, has played a role in helping organize the Indian woman, and she has agreed that no compromise should move forward without the tribal provisions.
In total, about 30 Native women and additional male tribal leaders and activists representing the United South and Eastern Tribes and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, have canvassed the halls of Congress, explaining to legislators the differences in the versions of the passed legislation—and the very real consequences those differences could have on the safety of Indian people. Hundreds of other concerned tribal and women advocates have attended rallies on Capitol Hill, making their voices heard.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: Native Women Warriors Lobby for Pro-Tribal VAWA – ICTMN.com.