Kendal Walker 0

Rape On Native American Reservations Can Stop By Removing this Legislative Loophole

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1 in 3 Native American women will be raped within their lifetime, 2.5 times the likelihood of the average American woman(1). 86% of the time, their rapist is a non-Native American(2). Why? The answer is simple; a legislative loophole.

The Supreme Court case Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe set a precedent that a non-Native American person cannot be tried in a tribal court(3). The federal government has the jurisdiction to prosecute all crimes committed on Native American reservations by non-Native Americans, but 65% of the time, they look the other way(1). Since the federal government does not step in to prosecute non-Native Americans, rapists, pedophiles, and human traffickers target citizens of Native American reserves because they know they can get away with their crimes(1).

A mechanic on the Fort Berthold Native American reservation told Sierra Crane-Murdoch, a reporter who traveled to the reservation to investigate the direct affects of the Oliphant v. Suquamish trial, said "Basically, you can do anything short of killing somebody"(2). This is not okay. Murder, rape, abuse, robbery, these crimes should not be allowed just because they take place in a specific location.

In 1994, Senate members added a provision to the Violence Against Women Act giving tribal courts the rights to try non-Native Americans who sexually assault Native Americans in tribal courts, but the bill faced strong opposition from House Republicans. They believed that it was a "dangerous expansion of tribal independence"(2), like Native Americans allowed a small amount of freedom is dangerous.

The true danger is rapists walking free from a jail cell.


Give tribal courts the rights to prosecute non-Native Americans, since our justice system obviously fails to do so (50% out of 9,000 cases filed from tribal lands were rejected during fiscal years 2005-2009 were declined(5)).

I can guarantee that Native American people can do a better job providing a fair trial to people convicted of rape than our justice system can provide a fair trial to rape victims, if they even provide a trial at all.

Think about the women, children, and men being raped with no justice being delivered. Imagine how many criminals are walking to the corner store right now, smiling, because they just raped an 11 year old Native American girl on her way home from school and they know nothing will happen to them.

For more context:

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