Annual Tribal Consultation on Violence Against Native Women Mandated Under the VAWA 2005 Safety for Indian Women Title

Congress amended VAWA in 2005 to include a tribal title by which it requires an annual tribal consultation to be organized by the USDOJ and Indian tribes dedicated to addressing violence against Indian women.

“Under the consultation mandate, the federal departments—Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Interior—must each consult annually with Indian nations on issues concerning the safety of Indian women. To continue to increase protections for Native women, Indian nations need to continuously identify the roadblocks and solutions that will allows us as governments to protect women.” —Juana Majel, Co-Chair, NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women.

An annual consultation between the United States and Indian nations as governments is on the highest level a discussion of the legal, policy, and administrative issues essential to safeguard the lives of Indian women and the successful implementation of VAWA as governments. This nation-to-nation interaction provides an avenue for tribal governments and the United States to discuss matters that at the broadest level impact the safety of Indian women. It provides an opportunity to examine and address important issues that impact all Indian nations in providing safety for women.

Based on the various concerns identified from the consultations (2006-2013), Congress strengthened the consultation mandate when it reauthorized VAWA in 2013. These amendments addressed concerns from tribal leaders about the consultation process allowing for mutual dialogue as governments of the legal and policy roadblocks to the safety of Native women.

The VAWA 2013 amendments established a 120-day notification period of the date and location of the annual consultation, requires the Department of Interior to attend, and the Attorney General to submit to Congress a report of specific details of the consultation and progress made to address the concerns.

“For Tribal Consultation to be effective, it must be comprehensive and ongoing, allowing for review of the progress made to address the issues by federal departments, and also discussion of why old barriers continue to exist. The VAWA consultation mandate is intended to support this process so over the years substantive progress can be made to increase the safety for Native women”—Michelle Demmert, Co-Chair, NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women.