Pascua Yaqui Begins Prosecuting Non-Natives Under VAWA

March 31, 2014

The Pascua Yaqui tribe in southern Arizona is beginning to prosecute non-Native Americans for domestic violence and sexual assault offenses committed on tribal lands. They are the first tribe in the nation to do so.

The ability to prosecute these offenders was granted to tribes just over a year ago when the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, was signed into law. The legislation included a provision that gave tribes the authority to prosecute non-Native Americans for these crimes.

Pascua Yaqui Attorney General Amanda Lomayesva said the move sends a positive message to Native American women.

"What it says is that we as your tribal government in the place where you live are able to protect you and keep you safe in your homes and in your community as opposed to relying on outside governments to do that."

A total of five offenders are currently making their way through the Pascua Yaqui criminal justice system.  Prior to VAWA, only the federal and state governments could handle these cases.