The Pascua Yaqui Tribe was one of three initial tribes selected by the U.S. Department of Justice to pilot enhanced criminal court jurisdiction pursuant to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2013. This law vested tribes with the authority, subject to certain conditions, to arrest, and prosecute non-Indians who commit certain domestic violence crimes within their territory. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe formed an advisory board that worked with state and federal agencies, as well as with an inter-tribal working group, to prepare for implementation of the law. The tribe began exercising Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction under VAWA in February of 2014 and prosecuted the country’s first criminal domestic violence case against a non-Native offender under this law. With the law fully implemented, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe now has the ability to protect adult victims within its reservation from non-Indian domestic violence offenders.
Tribes across the country are working hard to address many of the same challenges, including substance abuse, domestic violence, and juvenile delinquency. To strengthen their efforts, some tribes are reaching out to partner with neighboring tribes who are facing similar challenges. For example, intertribal courts enable a regional group of tribes to build a shared court system that spreads costs while serving all of the tribes. In the Pacific Northwest, a number of tribes work together to hold an annual canoe journey. In Alaska, Native villages are working together to develop a collaborative approach to prisoner reentry. And these efforts are not limited to intertribal partnerships.