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Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School - Burnt Umber Background

Violence Against Native Women: Resistance and Responses

On March 12, 2014, the Avon Global Center co-sponsored a panel event on violence against native women with Cornell University's American Indian Program, the Native American Law Student Association, and the Carl Becker House.

Avon Global Center Executive Director, Liz Brundige, introduced the event. The panel was moderated by Lisa K. Hall, Courtesy Associate Professor in the American Indian Program at Cornell University, and included top lawyers, academics, and activists working on violence against native women:

  • Sarah Deer, Associate Professor, William Mitchell College of Law and Associate Justice of the Prairie Island Indian Community Court of Appeals
  • Amanda Sampson Lomayesva, Attorney General of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe
  • Jennifer Nez Denetdale, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico and Board Member of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission

Violence against native women in the U.S. is at epidemic levels. Native women are currently more than twice as likely as non-Natives to be victims of domestic violence, and nearly three out of five have been assaulted by their spouses or intimate partners. When the U.S. reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act in 2013, it included a new provision that allows tribal courts to have criminal jurisdiction over non-tribal members in cases of domestic violence. Previously, tribal courts were only able to prosecute domestic violence offenses against their own members. One of the panelists described how the tribe's police enforcement's hands were tied when it came to domestic violence committed by non-tribal members.

"In the past, our police department would go out and when they ascertained the perpetrator was a non-Indian, there was nothing they could do - they would drive him to the edge of the reservation and just drop him off knowing that he would walk back," said Amanda Lomayesva Sampson.

The panelists were all hopeful that the new provisions would help address this issue and also make it easier to advocate for reforms in the future.

The panel was followed by a reception at the law school to allow for further discussion among the panelists and event participants.

Visit our Avon Global Center in the News page for press coverage of the event. Read more about violence against native women on the Avon Global Center's blog.