“The Wabanaki Tribal Courts already met most of the requirements set forth to exercise the special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction when VAWA 2013 was passed only to have the Attorney General of the State of Maine determine that Maine would not recognize the Wabanaki Tribes’ right to exercise the tribal special DV criminal jurisdictions of VAWA 2013 because it would impede the sovereignty of the state. The Wabanaki Tribes have asked year after year that attention be given to the unique barriers we face. We come yet again this year to implore both the federal government and our tribal brothers and sisters to hear us and support the fix we ask for in the 2018 reauthorization of VAWA.
The Maine Implementing Act and the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act (The Acts) of 1980 have created barriers to the safety of Native women in Maine and the full application of the tribal provisions of VAWA 2013. It is the interpretation of these provisions by the state that prevents full implementation of VAWA by Indian tribes in Maine.
Further, these Acts articulate a jurisdictional relationship between the tribes and the state of Maine that impede the full implementation of VAWA and prevent Indian tribes from fully safeguarding the lives of women within tribal jurisdiction. The Acts delineated a framework for the application of federal Indian law for Indians, Indian nations, or tribes or bands of Indians and created a mechanism for overriding the framework.