President Obama signs domestic violence bill with added protections to Native American women

Bill allows tribes to prosecute non-Indians in some circumstances when domestic violence crimes occur

Speaking before tribal leaders, lawmakers, domestic abuse survivors and domestic violence advocacy groups, President Obama signed into law the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 March 7.

On Feb. 28, the House passed the bipartisan Senate version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, S. 47, with tribal provisions intact.

"Tribal governments have an inherent right to protect their people and all women deserve the right to live free from fear," Obama said.

Obama thanked tribal leaders, advocacy groups, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for making the bill a reality.

"There were too many of you who helped make this happen and you all deserve to be part of this moment," Obama added.

The bill reauthorizes the act for the next five years and provides added protections to Native American women from domestic violence crimes on tribal lands. The bill allows tribes to prosecute non-Indians in some circumstances where they commit acts of domestic violence against Indians or violate domestic violence related protection orders.

Attending the signing ceremony at the Department of the Interior was Navajo Nation Washington Office executive director Clara Pratte. She said the mood was celebratory as those in attendance awaited the arrival of the president.

"We thank President Obama, Vice President Biden, Congress, and Indian Country for coming together and taking a stand to pass this important piece of legislation," Pratte said.

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