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October 28, 2021

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Murkowski Excludes Native Women from Protection

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President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act this week. Finally, something bipartisan passed!

American women are better protected from coast to coast — but all the way up north? Left out in the cold.

First, you should know a few facts. Native American and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other American women.

The vastness of Alaska works against victims here. We have about 140 villages with no state law enforcement. Gov. Sean Parnell believes he can get some help to them in the next 10 years. In the meantime, they are, depending on weather, days from having a state trooper available to protect them and enforce the law.

Fifty villages have tribal or village police. The remaining 90?

Zero. No law enforcement.

It’s nearly impossible to get a restraining order where there isn’t a judge and you have to take a long ride on a snowmachine, boat or airplane to get to court. Escaping a scene of violence can cost you hundreds of dollars, with nowhere to go for support.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, at least 86 percent of the victimizers of American Indian and Alaska Native women are non-Native men.

These facts make the particulars of the passage of the Violence Against Women Re-authorization Act (VAWA) even more disturbing. The VAWA gave “domestic violence jurisdiction and civil protection order” powers to tribal courts. This seemed like progress for communities without conventional courts readily available to issue restraining orders, etc.

Our senior senator, Republican Lisa Murkowski, added a “Special Rule for the State of Alaska” to the VAWA. That rule effectively bars 40 percent of American tribes from being able to protect their women. Our senator excluded 229 Alaska communities from that part of the act.

The Association of Village Council Presidents and the Aleut community of St. Paul Island spoke out against the Alaska exclusion. The Alaska Inter-Tribal Council said it “objects to anti-Alaska Tribal Provisions in the Violence Against Women Act.”

The Tanana Chiefs Conference opposed it. The Native American Rights Fund led the charge against it.

The AFN wrote to the senator: “Although Alaska Natives comprise only 15.2 percent of the population of the State of Alaska, they comprise 47 percent of the victims of domestic violence and 61 percent of the victims of sexual assault.”

Murkowski ignored their requests.

Let’s review a little recent Alaska history. Murkowski barely won her last election. Her write-in campaign only succeeded with a lot of help from Alaska Native corporations and the Alaska Federation of Natives. Why would she give powers to Lower 48 tribes but deny them to Alaska Natives? Why would she block the ability of Alaska Natives to protect some of their most vulnerable?

Alaska’s attorney general, Michael Geraghty, has become the principal agent of our governor’s anti-Native rights point of view. He argued to eliminate the federal Voting Rights Act, which protects Alaska Native voters. He lobbied to exclude Alaska from the VAWA.

The state of Alaska seems not to miss an opportunity to stop tribes from asserting jurisdiction over issues like Native adoption, alcohol control, subsistence hunting and fishing, etc. At every turn the state acts to circumscribe, as tightly as possible, the sovereignty of First Alaskans.

The difference between Alaska Natives and Native Americans is all about land. The Lower 48 has reservations. In Alaska, tribes don’t have reservations, so they can’t base claims of jurisdiction on reservation boundaries.

The worry for Alaskans like Parnell is: If we give Natives power over themselves, where will they stop? What if they don’t like a certain resource development — they might be able to get in the way. How could we let tribes enforce laws against non-Native predators? Oh, it could be a slippery slope, so let’s prevent Native communities from enforcing state law, and then we’ll pretend Alaska doesn’t have the money to pay for troopers to do it instead.

What’s a few rapes — as long as they happen way out there?

Last year the Obama administration took exception to the exclusion of Alaska tribes from the VAWA. At the time, a Murkowski spokesman claimed it was a “draft error.” Weird that she made the same error again this year, ensuring that our Alaska Native sisters wouldn’t get the same protection as Lower 48 Native Americans.

The state of Alaska has no higher responsibility than to protect its citizens from harm. While the governor walks around with a “Choose Respect” bumper sticker on his forehead, and legislators throw baskets of cash at every goofy development project that comes along, they all agree we can’t afford police protection for rural Native women, and then they work to keep the tools of self-protection out of the hands of communities.

The federal government wanted to give Alaska tribes the same jurisdiction as those in the Lower 48. Unfortunately for them, Lisa Murkowski, Michael Geraghty and Sean Parnell were standing in the way.

Cross-posted at Anchorage Daily News

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37 Responses to “Murkowski Excludes Native Women from Protection”
  1. I wonder... says:

    If she realizes her father reversed the Statutes of Limitations and that brought forward the Catholic Church abuses…well we can say she’s not her father’s daughter…she will be out of politics by the next cycle…

  2. Lisa Murkowski says:

    It’s incredibly important to clear up the confusion created by Shannyn Moore’s piece today — and I want Alaskans to hear it directly from me. The amendment she misconstrued focused on tribal jurisdiction over non-Natives who are accused of domestic or sexual assault on reservation land. Of Alaska’s 229 federally-recognized tribes, Alaska only has one reservation: Metlakatla. My amendment was introduced to spell out in no uncertain terms that Metlakatla would receive the same rights and jurisdiction granted to Lower 48 reservations. It was inclusive language, not what Ms. Moore suggested — and it received praise from the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska.

    Secondly, I cannot agree more that sexual and domestic violence is a blight on our state, especially in rural areas, and that what we are doing is not enough. This is why the other language I included in the bill — but was not mentioned — was to reestablish and authorize funding for the Alaska Rural Justice and Law Enforcement Commission to provide a permanent forum for the tribes, the state, and the federal government to work together on rural safety issues. Yes, I said ‘fund.’ Fiscal discipline is necessary to restore a sustainable future for our nation, but funding rural justice efforts is work that I will fight for as our people are losing their futures through abuse and despair.

    I am discouraged by Ms. Moore’s research and I am disheartened by the attempt to score partisan points on an issue that should be above politics.

    • DanInAnc says:

      Lisa: Be honest. Your amendment also served to spell out in on uncertain terms that Alaska’s other 228 federally-recognized tribes would not receive the same rights and jurisdiction as the reservation owning tribes. You need to explain yourself further, because it sure looks to me like you were doing your best to limit any growth of tribal sovereignty, which is fine, but you should admit that.

      Well, maybe it’s not fine. But it would be honest. And, I can certainly see the wisdom in limiting tribal sovereignty in integrated communities.

    • Mag the Mick says:

      Ms. Murkowski’s response leaves me even more confused. She goes out of her way here to mention that the Tlingit/Haida council “praised” her inclusive language to have the Metlakatla reservation included in her amendment. Metlakatla is home to the Tsimshian tribe. Why would the “praise” of the Tlingits and Haidas even be relevant?

    • The Lawman says:

      Say Lisa thanks for caring about those child rape victims…had a chance to hear it from the kid in person…
      But we see politics is your agenda not the functions of the politics that goes with the job…
      Just got the report back from the AST about the case…lol…more holes in it than Rice Krispies…
      I will tear the State of Alaska a new asshole now…better consult with your father…he knows about it…
      And when he looks at you and says “well kiddo you had your chance to make it right, like I did, but looks like you dropped the ball” with a look down at his paper with SILENCE…think about that the next time you ignore child rape…
      Now another thing, when I take the State of Alaska to court, then go to Washington DC and the United Nations what will be the excuses? Russia is already all uptight about adoptions…how could that be???

  3. Frznturd says:

    I’m seeing variations of this comment in several places but am having difficulty resolving. Can someone more savvy than I please post a link to the to the actually language of the reauthorization? Thank you.

    “IT’S A LIE! She TRIED to get Alaska excepted, but the version of VAWA that the President signed actually STRENGTHENS protect for Natives!”

    • Alaska Pi says:

      from
      http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s47/text

      SEC. 910. SPECIAL RULE FOR THE STATE OF ALASKA.

      (a) Expanded Jurisdiction- In the State of Alaska, the amendments made by sections 904 and 905 shall only apply to the Indian country (as defined in section 1151 of title 18, United States Code) of the Metlakatla Indian Community, Annette Island Reserve.

      (b) Retained Jurisdiction- The jurisdiction and authority of each Indian tribe in the State of Alaska under section 2265(e) of title 18, United States Code (as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this Act)–

      (1) shall remain in full force and effect; and

      (2) are not limited or diminished by this Act or any amendment made by this Act.

      (c) Savings Provision- Nothing in this Act or an amendment made by this Act limits or diminishes the jurisdiction of the State of Alaska, any subdivision of the State of Alaska, or any Indian tribe in the State of Alaska.
      ——————–
      Passed congress. Nobody can mess with it previous to president signing.

      Metlakatla (pop~1400) is only reservation in Alaska- opportunity for expanded jurisdiction has to do with the uncluttered clear notion of “Indian Country” there under federal law.
      State of Alaska consistently insists tribes here have none of the rights to limited sovereignty recognized Outside because it views the lands claims settlement as having extinguished those by extinguishing “Indian Country”.Courts haven’t agreed oft times with the State but doesn’t stop State from the stance.
      All Ms Murkowski did here was keep the status quo – which is limbo land for tribes.
      Same old, same old.
      We’ll have to duke it out in court someway, somehow.

      • Frznturd says:

        Thank you AlaskaPi.

        • Lucky Charms says:

          Well, she went out of her way to insert the language so everyone would be crystal clear on the fact that those 200+ tribes were still getting screwed, and to whom Lisa owes her allegiance. This was a “don’t worry we’re all good” to Parnell. She did not have to insert that language. A slap in the face.

          Notice too that she’s not trying to actually change anything. That’s because if tribal courts actually have power over non-Natives, or with anything with teeth, then they might just decide they don’t like mining projects, or logging projects, or oil projects, or cruise ship dumping, or, or, or…

          Can’t have that.

          • Pinwheel says:

            Lucky Charms, You are getting it now. Hurraay. n

          • Alaska Pi says:

            While I agree that it is a slap in the face, I disagree that she needn’t have added the language.
            The status of relations between the State and Tribes is quite messy. By asserting the status quo we theoretically don’t lose any ground . ( There are some concerns that the way this is worded will allow the State to relegate Tribal protective orders to “comity” status instead of full-faith-and-credit status even though it appears not to do so)
            There are multiple ways in which the lack of this language could and would be interpreted by the State to release it from having to deal with tribal justice/tribal court issues.
            In the current political climate that would be a disaster.
            Our Executive and Legislative branches are currently full of people who deny the existence of tribes here and view ANCSA as a full termination of the limited sovereignty of tribes. They are just waiting for a way to attack what little the courts have upheld so far.
            The endless twaddle from a too-large segment of the general population insisting the Regional Corps step up and do this or that for their shareholders, blah, blah, blah doesn’t help. The Regs are for-profit corporations, not tribal governments.
            Senator Murkowski is a chicken butt for not trying to figure out how to deal with our peculiar situation but we, hopefully, have not lost hard won ground. Get awfully tired of having to be satisfied with crumbs. Awfully tired.

            Mr McAdams was quite clear how he felt and I’m still proud I voted for him.
            http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/mcadams-talks-tribal-sovereignty-bethel
            I’m also still angry my Reg joined AST and the bandwagon for Ms Murkowski.

  4. Donna B says:

    Why am I not surprised? This woman is a consummate liar, who throws us a bone now and then to make us believe she is “in our corner”. The only corner she is in is the one inhabited by her cronies. That leaf may have “turned over” but it’s identical on the other side.

  5. melissa says:

    I know for a fact that an Alaska woman can get a protective order from the Alaska Court system by phone BECAUSE villages are so far away from courthouses. I think it’s time to read the Act itself and see if this article is actually true, since it already got one very important fact incorrect.

  6. Ravensong says:

    If everyone who voted for Harry Crawford also voted for Scott McAdams, he would have won. Some folks were just too scared to have enough conviction to vote for the candidate that represented their values. So many democrats voted for Murkowski knowing that she didn’t represent their values. Why are we so surprised now?

  7. Lucky Charms says:

    I wonder if AFN will endorse her NEXT time?

    • fishingmamma says:

      People have short memories. She will show up via Skype feed in her white Kuspuk and they will fall all over themselves endorsing their ‘friend’.

    • Pinwheel says:

      Next time Sen M appears before AFN I would want everyone in the hall to stand and turn their backs to her. It would be equally powerful if the AFN Board of Directors did the same when she speaks to them. n

  8. hedgewytch says:

    It’s all very simple really. Her public positions, her “concern” for the little people – its all a sham. All Murkowski cares about is power and money. Keeping her power and keeping the money flowing in. I’m sure she would take exception to that remark. She loves to express how much she worries about us. But in the end, her voting record speaks for itself. And she sure isn’t voting as an independent, except on a few things that really don’t matter in the end, but that she showcase and pretend that she is actually doing something for the good of the people.

    • Moose Pucky says:

      It was the corporations who got her elected, not victims of domestic violence. She continues the dance with those that brung her.

      • Pinwheel says:

        But Moose P:

        Read the Bush vote. We don’t like to admit it but voters and shareholders are often the same casting votes. Notice also, AFN in 2010 was in Fairbanks, outside the participation and/or scrutiny of many voter/shareholder. It will be extremely interesting to see what happens this fall in Fairbanks. AFN theoretically has added village representation to their BOD. This is important. n

  9. Mill says:

    It amazes me that anyone would vote for Murkowski in Alaska. It’s way past time that the state goes back to being Democratic!

  10. bubbles says:

    Let’s review a little recent Alaska history. Murkowski barely won her last election. Her write-in campaign only succeeded with a lot of help from Alaska Native corporations and the Alaska Federation of Natives. Why would she give powers to Lower 48 tribes but deny them to Alaska Natives? Why would she block the ability of Alaska Natives to protect some of their most vulnerable?
    well there you go. they got what they voted for. damn shame though. i hope that those women under threat of violence take steps to protect themselves and their children. it is my experience that a flare gun fired just so makes a marvelous impression on an assailant and usually stops his antics right there. it also seems to discourage any thought of coming back for future visits of revenge. just sayin’.

    • RJ says:

      Yeah, because clearly the burden needs to fall on the victim? What? Most rapes are committed by someone who is known and trusted by the victim. Where did you get this idea that rapists are the bogeyman jumping out of the bushes. Expecting every woman to be armed while she goes about her daily business is beyond ridiculous, and it shifts the blame on her for not doing enough to prevent being raped. Women are bombarded with patronizing “advice” on how to stop rape starting at a very young age, which doesn’t do anything to lower crime rates. Blaming victims for failing to protect themselves is not where this discussion needs to go. There needs to be a focus on stopping predators from victimizing women, girls, and men. Canada had a pretty awesome PSA campaign telling men that it’s not ok to rape women, and their rape rates went down by 10% for the first time ever.

      • bubbles says:

        whoa RJ,
        let me get you straight here and right now. everyone here knows me. you don’t. what they know and you don’t is that i walk the walk so i get to talk the talk.
        i live in Manhattan in the Lower East Side. nobody messes with me and mine. i do not play. my home is my home and no man, no woman , no child disrespects me in my home, my neighborhood nor anywhere else i choose to to hang my hat.
        i am represented by intelligent, thoughtful men and women in Washington who are bright enough to be effective there.
        Murkowsky is who she is. she is what she is. i hope Native Americans let their organization hear from them in no uncertain terms and i hope they get to choose officers very soon.
        meanwhile RJ you don’t have a problem with me.

        • fishingmamma says:

          Bubbles,
          I carried a flare gun with me all the time when I was living in Seattle’s fisherman’s terminal on my boat, outfitting for my trip to AK in 1979. Nobody messed with me.

          I feel bad for the women in Hooper Bay and Akiachak, though, because they are not the ones that got Murkowski re-elected. I bet that most of those women have never heard of Murkowski, and have no idea how the DC politics affect their right to law enforcement in the villages.

  11. Mo says:

    At its annual convention, the Alaska Federation of Natives voted unanimously Thursday to endorse write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski in November’s election for U.S. Senate. The AFN body has endorsed a candidate on only one other occasion.

    https://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/afn-endorses-murkowski

    Keep going, Republicans, you’re doing great.

    • Will says:

      But then we would of been having to cope with teabagger Joe Miller. She was the lesser of 2 evils. Still, it sucks that she turns her back on the very people who got her reelected.

      • Jeanne Devon says:

        There were three choices. I proudly voted for Scott McAdams who would have won the race if it was between him and Joe Miller. Frightened Independents and Democrats voted for her instead of what they believed.

        • RJ says:

          I totally fear-voted for Murkowski. How many votes did McAdams get? Oh that’s right, 60,045 votes to Miller’s 90,839. I love the guy, but there was no way I would have voted for him if it had put Miller in the Senate.

          • AKblue says:

            I still wonder about that vote count. Scott McAdams’ poll numbers were a lot higher than than the outcome, unless a lot of people changed their minds at the last minute….

            • tallimat says:

              My family backed Mr. McAdams.
              I even convinced my right wing, staunch republican to vote for Scott.
              Or I should say I informed my neibor of the stuff Job Killer Miller was up too.
              Scott slowly became his choice. Slowly because my neibors fear was that his right wing friends wouldn’t write Lisa’s name in. He even stated that it wasn’t the spelling of Lisa name but more that his right wing friends are lazy and anything with a R is fine.

  12. Ripley in CT says:

    Why? Why would a woman in her position turn her back on the women who need her to be their voice the most? *SMDH*

  13. Zyxomma says:

    OK. Let me see if I understand this … no, I can’t wrap my head around this disgrace.

  14. mageen says:

    What is wrong with this woman! Oh, wait a min! That’s right! She was always protected from the facts of life by her powerful daddy! Too bad the native women don’t have that same protection, but shucks, they are in the Repugs mind part of the 47% who “rely on government”. Hells bells! Murkowski relies on government — for her paycheck! What a scandal!

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