Department of Justice Announces Program to Enhance Tribal Access to National Crime Information Databases

Department of Justice Tribal Access Program (TAP) Will Improve the Exchange of Critical Data

Department of the Interior Companion Program to Provide Name-Based Emergency Background Checks for Child Placement


Source: United States Department of Justice


The Department of Justice is launching an initial phase of the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP) to provide federally-recognized tribes access to national crime information databases for both civil and criminal purposes.  TAP will allow tribes to more effectively serve and protect their communities by ensuring the exchange of critical data.

This initial phase of TAP was announced today in a meeting with tribes held during the 2015 Department of Justice/FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division Tribal Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Federal criminal databases hold critical information that can solve crimes, and keep police officers and communities safe,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates.  “The Tribal Access Program is a step forward to providing tribes the access they need to protect their communities, keep guns from falling into the wrong hands, assist victims and prevent domestic and sexual violence.  Empowering tribal law enforcement with information strengthens public safety and is a key element in our ongoing strategy to build safe and healthy communities in Indian country. ”

“The FBI is pleased to participate in this initiative,” said Executive Assistant Director Amy Hess of the FBI’s Science and Technology Branch.  “This will be a positive step for the tribal agencies to receive valuable criminal information and also for those same tribal agencies to submit criminal information at the national level.  Through this partnership, information becomes richer and communities can become safer.”

TAP will support tribes in analyzing their needs for national crime information and help provide appropriate solutions, including a-state-of-the-art biometric/biographic computer workstation with capabilities to process finger and palm prints, take mugshots and submit records to national databases, as well as the ability to access CJIS systems for criminal and civil purposes through the Department of Justice.  TAP will also provide specialized training and assistance for participating tribes.

While in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 Congress required the Attorney General to ensure that tribal officials that meet applicable requirements be permitted access to national crime information databases, the ability of tribes to fully participate in national criminal justice information sharing via state networks has been dependent upon various regulations, statutes and policies of the states in which a tribe’s land is located.  Therefore, improving access for tribal law enforcement to federal criminal information databases has been a departmental focus for several years.  In 2010, the department instituted two pilot projects, one biometric and one biographic, to improve informational access for tribes.  The biographic pilot continues to serve more than 20 tribal law enforcement agencies.

Departments of Justice and Interior Working Group

In 2014, the Departments of Justice and the Interior (DOI) formed a working group to assess the impact of the pilots and identify long-term sustainable solutions that address both criminal and civil needs of tribes.  The outcome of this collaboration was the TAP, as well as an additional program announced today by the DOI’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) that provides tribes with national crime information prior to making child placement decisions in emergency circumstances.  Under the BIA program, social service agencies of federally recognized tribes will be able to view criminal history information  accessed through BIA’s Office of Justice Services who will conduct name-based checks in situations where parents are unable to care for their children.

“Giving tribal government programs access to national crime databases through DOJ’s Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information is a tremendous step forward towards increasing public safety in Indian Country,” said Assistant Secretary Kevin K. Washburn for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior.  “The Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services’ Purpose Code X program provides a much-needed tool for tribal social service agencies when they must find safe homes to place children during temporary emergency situations.”

In the initial phase of the TAP program, the biometric/biographic workstations will be deployed to up to 10 federally-recognized tribes who will provide user feedback.  This phase will focus on assisting tribes that have law enforcement agencies, while in the future the department will seek to address needs of the remaining tribes and find a long-term solution.  The department will continue to work with Congress for additional funding to more broadly deploy the program.

The Department of Justice’s Chief Information Officer manages TAP.

“It is our hope that TAP can minimize the national crime information gap and drive a deeper and more meaningful collaboration between the federal, state, local and tribal criminal justice communities,” said Chief Information Officer Joseph F. Klimavicz for the department.

For more information on TAP, visit

For more information about the Justice Department’s work on tribal justice and public safety issues, visit:

For more information about the Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, visit

Department of Justice Releases Second Report to Congress on Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions

By Yuma News Now

Washington, DC – The Department of Justice released today its second report to Congress entitled Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions, which provides a range of enforcement statistics required under the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, as well as information about the progress of the Attorney General’s initiatives to reduce violent crime and strengthen tribal justice systems.

The report, based on data compiled from the case management system used by U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAO), shows prosecutors in 2013 continued to bring substantial numbers of cases to federal court (a 34 percent increase over FY 2009 numbers) and prosecute a substantial majority of all cases referred to them.   Of the cases that were declined for federal prosecution, most were declined for insufficient evidence or because they were referred to another prosecuting authority, such as the tribe, for potential prosecution.

“As detailed in this report, the Department of Justice is making good on our commitment to strengthen cooperation with sovereign tribes, reduce violent crime, and ensure justice for every individual,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “From our work to empower Indian women under the landmark Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, to the task force we established to safeguard children in Indian country from violence and abuse, we have made significant strides – in close partnership with tribal nations – to bolster the safety and security of all American Indian and Alaska Native communities.   As we move forward, we will continue to expand on this critical work; to deepen our ongoing efforts; and to reaffirm our dedication to the promise of equal rights, equal protection, and equal justice for all.”

Although declination rates are an imperfect means of evaluating the effectiveness of criminal justice in Indian country or elsewhere, the report shows that with few exceptions, areas where the largest populations of American Indian people live and suffer from the most serious crime rates, such as the Southwest and the northern plains states (which together handled approximately 70 percent of the 2,542 cases resolved in 2013), federal declination rates were the lowest in the nation.   For instance, South Dakota had the second to highest number of cases resolved in the country last year, 470 cases, and one of the lowest declination rates of 26 percent.   Arizona resolved the highest number of cases, 733 cases, and had a declination rate of 28 percent.

Associate Attorney General Tony West announced the findings in remarks to the Four Corners Indian Country Conference today on the Navajo Nation in Flagstaff, and met separately with the Attorney General’s advisory subcommittee on Native American issues to discuss the report, among other matters.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented era of collaboration among U.S. Attorneys’ offices and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors across the country,” said Associate Attorney General West.   “This report shows the fruits of this continuing partnership between the federal government and American Indian tribes, including enhancing training and capacity building for tribal court systems and improving responses to victims in Indian country.”

“Over the past five years, the Justice Department and our tribal partners have taken important steps forward on our journey toward a safer Indian Country,” said Timothy Purdon, U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota and chair of the Attorney General’s advisory subcommittee on Native American issues.   “Vigorous enforcement of federal laws is vitally important to strengthening public safety on American Indian reservations.   We are pleased to see in this report that U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country continue to work hard to remove the most dangerous offenders and work closely with tribal law enforcement and prosecutors.  These promising numbers are the direct result of this enhanced communication and collaboration.”

“The FBI continues to be committed to public safety in Indian Country,” said FBI Assistant Director Joseph S. Campbell. “Our partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal agencies remains strong as we continue to aggressively address violent crime and victimization in tribal communities.”

The information contained in the report shows the following:

  • The Justice Department’s prioritization of Indian country crime has continued to result in substantial numbers of prosecutions, despite resource constraints that impacted the U.S. Attorney community in 2013.   Between FY 2009 and FY 2012, the number of cases the department filed against defendants in Indian country increased nearly 54 percent.   In FY 2013, due to fiscal challenges, overall case filings in Indian country declined somewhat compared to FY 2012, but still remained 34 percent above the number of cases filed when the department first began its department-wide tribal justice initiative in 2009.   Notwithstanding the fiscal impact of the sequester, reduced budgets, and a hiring freeze, federal agents and prosecutors continued to focus their efforts on improving public safety in Indian country.
  • A substantial majority of Indian country criminal investigations opened by the FBI were referred for prosecution.
  • A substantial majority of Indian country criminal cases opened by the United States Attorneys’ Offices were prosecuted.
  • USAO data for CY 2013 show that 34 percent (853) of all Indian country submissions for prosecution (2,542) were declined for prosecution.   In CY 2012, USAOs declined approximately 31 percent (965) of all (3145) Indian country submissions for prosecution.   USAO data for CY 2011 indicate that just under 37 percent (1,041) of all Indian country submissions for prosecution (2,840) were declined.
  • The most common reason for declination by USAOs was insufficient evidence (56 percent in CY 2013, 52 percent in CY 2012, and 61 percent in CY 2011).
  • The next most common reason for declination by USAOs was referral to another prosecuting authority (21 percent in CY 2013, 24 percent in CY 2012, and 19 percent in CY 2011).

The most common reason FBI Indian country investigations were closed administratively without referral for prosecution was that the investigation concluded that no federal crime had occurred.

  • For instance, all but 30 of the 164 death investigations the FBI closed administratively in CY 2013 were closed because the FBI established that the death was due to causes other than homicide – i.e., accidents, suicide, or death from natural causes.

Other important developments in FY 2013:

VAWA Pilot Projects

The fight against domestic violence in Indian country has been an especially important priority for the Department of Justice, and in 2013, Congress and this administration took an historic step forward with the passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013), which the President signed into law on March 7, 2013.

Congress, in VAWA 2013, provided new tools to fight domestic violence in Indian country, and the department spared no time utilizing them.   From the date the act took effect, March 7, 2013, through the end of fiscal year 2013, U.S. Attorneys with prosecutorial responsibilities in Indian country have charged defendants with the amended provisions of the federal assault statutes that strengthened penalties for domestic assault offenses, such as strangulation and stalking.   And, while the new law’s tribal criminal jurisdiction provision takes effect generally on March 7, 2015, under VAWA 2013’s “Pilot Project” provisions, the department recently approved three tribes’ applications voluntary “Pilot Project” to begin exercising special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction sooner.   These tribes – the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Umatilla Tribes of Oregon, and the Tulalip Tribes of Washington – will be the first tribes in the nation to exercise special criminal jurisdiction over crimes of domestic and dating violence, regardless of the defendant’s Indian or non-Indian status, under VAWA 2013.

Strengthening Partnerships and Support for Tribal Self-Governance

Strengthening partnerships and tribal self-governance was a major theme of the Attorney General’s message to tribal leaders on Nov.13, 2013, at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, where he announced a proposed statement of principles   to guide the department’s work with federally recognized tribes.   As the Attorney General said, “ As a result of these partnerships – and the efforts of everyone here – our nation is poised to open a new era in our government-to-government relationships with sovereign tribes.”

U.S. Attorneys’ offices around the country are engaged in an unprecedented level of collaboration with tribal law enforcement, consulting regularly with them on crime-fighting strategies in each district.   One important example of this is the department’s enhanced Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) program.   Tribal SAUSAs are cross-deputized tribal prosecutors who are able to prosecute crimes in both tribal court and federal court as appropriate.   These Tribal SAUSAs serve to strengthen a tribal government’s ability to fight crime and to increase the USAO’s coordination with tribal law enforcement personnel.   The work of Tribal SAUSAs can also help to accelerate a tribal criminal justice system’s implementation of TLOA and VAWA 2013.

Read the entire report at

Read about the Justice Department’s efforts to increase public safety in Indian County at

DOJ’s ‘Operation Choke Point’ Infringes on Tribal Trust

By Barry Brandon, American Banker

Tribal sovereignty is the most valuable of all American Indian assets. Tribal governments’ inherent rights of self-government and self-determination are the foundation of tribal communities and tribal identity.

Tribal governments have worked hard to strengthen our partnerships with the federal government through self-determined economic development and the co-creation of new institutions, including the National Indian Gaming Commission, housed within the Department of Interior.

The relationship between tribal governments and the federal government goes beyond the DOI, however, to include Congress and the White House, which has a long-running formal policy of consultation with tribal governments. These complex and interdependent relationships, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, are summarized as the “trust relationship” or even “trust responsibility,” so named because it captures the special fiduciary responsibility by the federal government towards tribes.

Recently, however, the relationship between some tribal governments and a particular division of the federal government, located in the Department of Justice, has been severely damaged by an internal campaign known within the DOJ as “Operation Choke Point.”

This behind-the-scenes attempt to shut down legal tribal businesses has disrupted our long-held tribal-federal partnership. It represents a total departure from more than a century of respect for, and engagement with, tribal governments as partners and co-regulators on issues ranging from law enforcement to economic development to education.

At issue in the short term are the legal, licensed and regulated e-commerce lending services that many tribes have established. What is at stake, however, is the long-term viability of the trust relationship itself.

In other economic ventures such as gaming, tribal governments have found strong opposition from state governments who see us as a competitor or, worse yet, as a willful violator of state regulations. It thus disturbs tribal governments that, in the case of legal online lending, the DOJ – our supposed federal partner – continues to attack and undermine our legal businesses.

As a member of the “federal family,” the DOJ has a mandate to exercise their trust responsibility to tribal governments. They have a responsibility to do this in a way that protects tribal businesses engaging in honest business practices, as ours do.

Like gaming enterprises operated by tribal governments, our online lending businesses are legally owned, operated and regulated under tribal regulatory authority. They are created pursuant to tribal law and our authority to create them is acknowledged in the Dodd-Frank Act. As with gaming, we have created partnerships with the federal government and federal regulatory bodies to ensure that consumers across the country have access to the services they need in a way that also drives economic growth on reservations.

Thus, we support and echo the concerns of House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, as reported in American Banker, that the Justice Department’s dragnet does appear to be an effort to stomp out all short-term lending, including legal tribal government-owned enterprises.

In light of the fact that the Dodd-Frank Act treats tribes as states in the context of financial services, tribal governments have created the Native American Financial Services Association to collectively establish a model for self-regulation, and we have sought meaningful consultation with federal regulatory bodies to strengthen and operationalize our relationship as co-regulators.

In an election year, however, the successful negotiation of a co-regulatory environment is not deemed as newsworthy as “choking off” legal tribal businesses. It is this abandonment of the federal-tribal trust relationship that has allowed “Operation Choke Point” to run amok and allowed legislators to blindly prop it up.

In the wake of this abandonment, rather than focusing on the true bad actors in the industry, “Operation Choke Point” is having the opposite effect. As the DOJ’s blanket actions continue to choke the illegal businesses, they also drown the legal ones, like ours, leaving consumers further underserved and tribal communities further isolated. At NAFSA, we will continue fighting to strengthen our tribal laws and regulations, work with our federal partners and educate state governments about our legal right to offer these businesses.

We can only hope that the DOJ, as a member of the “federal family,” will abide by their obligation to consult with us before taking unilateral actions, especially those that do not consider our special “trust” relationship and damage the fragile economic strides we are seeking on isolated reservation lands.

VAWA advocate closes operation after DOJ questions funding

Diane Millich, Southern Ute, shared her story of surviving domestic violence, at the signing of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act on March 7, 2013. Photo from National Congress of American Indians
Diane Millich, Southern Ute, shared her story of surviving domestic violence, at the signing of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act on March 7, 2013. Photo from National Congress of American Indians

A survivor of domestic violence has shut down her operation due to a loss of federal funds from the Department of Justice.

Diane Millich, a member of the Southern Ute Tribe of of Colorado, made national news a year ago at the signing of S.47, a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that recognizes tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders. She shared her story of surviving abuse and a near-fatal shooting at the hands of her non-Indian former husband.

“Today is about women like Diane. I’m so grateful Diane shared her story. That takes great courage,” President Barack Obama said at the signing ceremony.

Millich created a non-profit called Our Sister’s Keeper Coalition to help other survivors. But DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women cut off all federal funds in 2012 and the group shut its doors in September, The Durango Herald reports.

“We were serving a lot of women,” Dedra White, the group’s former director and Millich’s sister, told the paper. “A lot.”

According to DOJ’s Office of Inspector General, Our Sister’s Keeper Coalition received $570,000 in federal funds between 2007 and 2011. Of that amount, auditors found problems with about $200,000 in spending that were considered “unsupported” and “unallowable.”

“We found that, OSKC did not comply with essential grant conditions in the areas of internal controls, grant drawdowns, grant expenditures, budget management and control, grant reporting, and grant goals and accomplishments,” the March 5 report stated. “Most significantly, OSKC commingled the OVW grant funds with funding from other sources, did not consistently identify funding sources for expenditures, made drawdowns in excess of grant expenditures, charged unallowable and unsupported costs to the grant, did not submit accurate or timely grant reports, and did not meet grant goals and objectives.”

Millich did not talk to the paper about the audit.

Get the Story:
Sister’s Keeper under criticism for funds use (The Durango Herald 3/12) DOJ Office of Inspector General Report:
udit of the Office on Violence Against Women Grants Awarded to Our Sister’s Keeper Coalition, Durango, Colorado (Redacted Version), Audit Report GR-60-14-004 (March 5, 2014)

Tony West Addresses Native American Issues Subcommittee

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

The following remarks were delivered by Tony West, associate attorney general at the Native American Issues Subcommittee (NAIS) meeting on September 18 in Hood River, Oregon.


Thank you, Karol, for that kind introduction. Karol is one of the leading advocates for tribes at the Department of Justice, and I’m delighted that she has taken the helm at OJP.

Let me thank Tim [Purdon, NAIS Chair] and Sandy [Coats, NAIS Vice Chair] for their very capable leadership of the Native American Issues Subcommittee, and for all they do to coordinate the Department’s efforts with its tribal partners. I also want to thank Amanda [Marshall, USA for the District of Oregon] and the many tribal leaders for hosting us. I’m honored to be here among you. Thanks, too, to Marshall Jarrett for his leadership at the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys and Tracy Toulou for the exceptional work he does as Director of our Office of Tribal Justice. Finally, I extend my appreciation to all the members of the committee for your hard work and commitment to these very important issues.

I’m very pleased to have this chance to meet with the federal and tribal officials responsible for the safety and welfare of Native communities and to talk about ways we can continue working together to strengthen the Justice Department’s work in Indian country. We have made unprecedented strides – and achieved remarkable success – in improving law enforcement and ensuring justice in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and I want to ensure that we build on our progress.

The progress has been tremendous.

Every U.S. Attorney with jurisdiction in Indian country has now appointed at least one tribal liaison, and we’ve designated a Native American Issues Coordinator to provide advice and assistance to U.S. Attorneys’ Offices on legal and policy issues. We created the Tribal Nations Leadership Council to advise the Attorney General on issues critical to tribal governments. We launched the National Indian Country Training Initiative, which last year trained some 2,500 federal, state, and tribal criminal justice professionals on issues ranging from domestic violence to wildlife and pollution enforcement. We created a Violence Against Women Federal and Tribal Prosecution Task Force and assigned additional federal personnel to investigate and prosecute cases on Indian lands.  And we established the Office of Tribal Justice as a permanent component within the Justice Department.

We have also met – and exceeded – our responsibilities under the Tribal Law and Order Act. We published a final rule that authorizes the Department to assume concurrent jurisdiction over certain crimes committed in Public Law 280 states, and we have already exercised that authority. We’re enhancing our efforts to combat sexual assault by expanding support for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners and Sexual Assault Response Teams in Indian country and by establishing a SANE/SART Advisory Committee. We’ve settled long-standing trust litigation and boundary disputes to the benefit of tribes. We’ve worked to protect water rights and natural resources on tribal lands and helped preserve Native cultural and religious practices.  We’ve joined with our federal partners to develop, in consultation with tribes, a long-term plan to build and sustain tribal justice systems. And we’re fighting alcohol and substance abuse by coordinating services with the Departments of the Interior and Health and Human Services and by providing assistance to tribes that want to develop action plans to address these issues.

Finally, we’ve vastly expanded and strengthened our outreach to tribes. I have had the honor of joining the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, and many other leaders in the Department at a number of listening sessions and consultations in Indian country. Attorney General Holder approved a policy statement committing the Department to regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials. This policy statement requires the Department to seek tribal input whenever we develop or amend policies, regulations, or legislation that will affect tribes. In addition, staff from across the Justice Department have partnered with their colleagues in the Departments of the Interior, Health and Human Services, HUD, and other agencies to hold tribal justice, safety, and wellness training and technical assistance sessions, where we’ve reached more than 5,500 participants. As a result of this greater coordination and cooperation, we’ve been able to more effectively target our resources to meet the most pressing public safety needs of tribes.

Through our Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation, or CTAS as we call it, we’ve revamped and streamlined the process for tribes to tap much-needed federal funding. We’ve heard from tribes that this mechanism has been an important positive step in our relationship with tribes, and we continue to make it a centerpiece of our efforts to support tribal communities.

In fact, today I’m pleased to announce that the Department of Justice is awarding almost 200 new awards totaling more than $90 million under CTAS. These awards bring the total number of grants to tribes over the last four years to almost 1,000, totaling almost $440 million. These grants address an array of tribal justice system issues, from at-risk youth and violence against women to community policing and corrections alternatives, and they give tribes the support they need to keep their communities safe and ensure a just, fair, and effective system for fighting crime.

But there is more we must do. Violence against Native women continues at alarming rates, and children in Indian country encounter violence far too often.

I was proud to witness President Obama sign the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in March. This landmark legislation provides vital protections for all women, but it is especially important for what it does to help ensure the safety of Indian women. Now, thanks to the new law, tribes may exercise jurisdiction over certain crimes committed by non-Indians on their lands.  This represents a giant step forward in our ability to hold perpetrators of domestic and dating violence accountable.

And we must do all we can to protect Indian children. More than 60 percent of kids in America encounter some form of violence, crime, or abuse, ranging from brief encounters as witnesses to serious violent episodes as victims. Almost 40 percent are direct victims of two or more violent acts. Tribal communities are no exception to this troubling phenomenon. As one tribal leader said, “For us. . . the question is not who has been exposed to violence, it’s who hasn’t been exposed to violence.”

As part of his Defending Childhood Initiative, Attorney General Holder established a national task force to study this problem and recommend ways to address it. One of the recommendations was the creation of a separate task force devoted specifically to children exposed to violence in Indian country. I’m pleased that work is well under way to stand up this task force, which includes both an advisory committee and a federal working group composed of U.S. Attorneys and other government officials, including our partners at the Department of the Interior, working in Indian country.

We anticipate that the Advisory Committee will convene hearings and listening sessions throughout the country and prioritize consultation with American Indian and Alaska Native youth. Our goal is to develop a national strategy to reduce and mitigate the impact of violence on children in tribal communities.

The Federal Working Group of the Task Force is already hard at work and making real progress. In an effort to ensure that juveniles held in tribal or Bureau of Indian Affairs detention facilities are provided adequate and culturally-sensitive educational and counseling services, the working group initiated a close look at existing programs and services. As a result, BIA has ensured that contracts for teachers are secured for detention facilities in Towoac, Colorado, and Northern Cheyenne, Montana. To ensure that Bureau of Prison contract facilities provide culturally appropriate services to tribal youth in detention, the working group completed a survey of programs currently available and is currently analyzing the results to develop best practices to ensure consistency across facilities. These are just a few of many efforts currently underway.

This is my sixth trip to Indian country since joining the Department of Justice as a member of President Obama’s administration in 2009, and my fourth as the Associate Attorney General. Since my first trip to the Navajo Nation, where I met with brave Cold War Warriors, I have traveled from the Crow Nation and Northern Cheyenne in Montana to the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Acoma and Laguna Pueblos of the Four Corners. Earlier this month, I visited the Tulalip Tribes in Washington, and I am so pleased to join you today here in Celilo Village.

For me, these visits to Indian country are a great privilege. They are a great privilege for me because they remind me of the rich legacy that First Americans have bestowed upon this country, and that we are a stronger America because of that legacy.

They remind me of the important trust relationship between the United States and tribal nations, and that the struggle for tribal sovereignty and self-determination has too often been waged in the face of disruption and devastation caused by assimilation and termination policies pursued in the not-so-distant past.

The work we’ve done to strengthen public safety in Indian country – and the work we are doing to protect tribal sovereignty – is a collective responsibility, one that we all must share, federal and tribal officials alike. I’m pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish thus far. I believe we have written a great chapter in the story of our government-to-government relationship with tribes. I look forward to working with all of you to continue that story into the next – and even greater – chapter.

Thank you.



Feds Award $90 Million to Enhance Native Law Enforcement Programs

Source: Native News Network

CELILO VILLAGE, OREGON – The Department of Justice Wednesday announced the awarding of 192 grants to 110 American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, tribal consortia and tribal designated non-profits.

The grants will provide more than $90 million to enhance law enforcement practices and sustain crime prevention and intervention efforts in nine purpose areas including public safety and community policing; justice systems planning; alcohol and substance abuse; corrections and correctional alternatives; violence against women; juvenile justice; and tribal youth programs. The awards are made through the department’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation, a single application for tribal-specific grant programs.

Associate Attorney General Tony West and Office of Justice Programs Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason made the announcement during a meeting of northwest tribal leaders with the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee’s Native American Issues Subcommittee (NAIS) in Celilo Village, Oregon.

“These programs take a community based and comprehensive approach to the root causes and consequences of crime, as well as target areas of possible intervention and treatment,”

said Associate Attorney General West.

“The CTAS programs are critical tools to help reverse unacceptably high rates of crime in Indian country, and they are a product of the shared commitment by the Department of Justice and tribal nations to strengthen and sustain healthy communities today and for future generations.”

“The Department of Justice has a responsibility to make sure its resources are not only available but accessible to tribes in a manner that they have defined and envisioned to meet the needs of their communities,”

said Assistant Attorney General Mason.

“As we have shown over the last four years, the Department of Justice takes this responsibility very seriously.”

The department developed CTAS through its Office of Community Oriented Policing, Office of Justice Programs and Office on Violence against Women, and administered the first round of consolidated grants in September 2010.

Over the past four years, it has awarded 989 grants totaling more than $437 million. Information about the consolidated solicitation is available at

A fact sheet on CTAS is available here.

Thirty US Attorneys from districts that include Indian country or one or more federally recognized tribes serve on the NAIS. The NAIS focuses exclusively on Indian country issues, both criminal and civil, and is responsible for making policy recommendations to the Attorney General regarding public safety and legal issues.

Next month, the Justice Department will hold its annual consultation on violence against native women on October 31, in Bismarck, North Dakota. In addition, an Interdepartmental Tribal Justice, Safety and Wellness Session will be held in Bismarck on October 29-30. It will include an important listening session with tribal leaders to obtain their views on the Department grants, as well as valuable training and technical assistance.

Today’s announcement is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing initiative to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.

Award List by State


Akiachak Native Community

Aleut Community of St. Paul Island

Bristol Bay Native Association, Inc

Iliamna Village Council

Kenaitze Indian Tribe

Maniilaq Association

Native Village of Barrow

Native Village of Kwinhagak

Native Village of Old Harbor

Nome Eskimo Community

Qagan Tayagungin Tribe

Southcentral Foundation

Sun’ ‘aq Tribe of Kodiak

Traditional Council of Togiak


Hualapai Detention and Rehabilitation Center

Navajo Division of Public Safety

Pascua Yaqui Tribe

Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community

SanCarlos Apache Tribe

Tohono O’odham Nation


Bishop Indian Tribal Council

Cahto Tribe of the Laytonville Rancheria

Hoopa Valley Tribe

Hopland Band of Pomo Indians

Round Valley Indian Tribes

Shingle Springs Rancheria

Two Feathers Native American Family Services

Yurok Tribe


Southern Ute Indian Tribe


Seminole Tribe of Florida


Coeur D’Alene Tribe

Nez Perce Tribe


Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation

Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri


Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana


Aroostook Band of Micmacs

Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians

Penobscot Nation


Bay Mills Indian Community

Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians

Hannahville Indian Community

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians


Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians

The Prairie Island Indian Community

White Earth Reservation Tribal Council


Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians


Chippewa Cree Tribe

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

North Carolina

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

North Dakota

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians


Omaha Tribe of Nebraska

Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska

New Mexico

Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, Inc. PeaceKeepers

Mescalero Apache Tribe

Pueblo of Acoma

Pueblo of Isleta

Pueblo of Jemez

Pueblo of Laguna

Santa Clara Pueblo

Zuni Tribe


Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California

New York

Oneida Indian Nation

St. Regis Mohawk Tribe


Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma

Apache Tribe of Oklahoma

Cherokee Nation

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Kaw Nation

Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma

Miami Tribe of Oklahoma

Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma

Seminole Nation of Oklahoma

The Chickasaw Nation

Tonkawa Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma

Wyandotte Nation


Burns Paiute Tribe

Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians

Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation

Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation

South Carolina

Catawba Indian Nation

South Dakota

Lower Brule Sioux Tribe

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation

Wiconi Wawokiya Inc


Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation

ConfederatedTribes of the Chehalis Reservation

Cowlitz Indian Tribe Total $711,000

Kalispel Tribe of Indians Total $981,540

Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe

Puyallup Tribal Council

Quileute Tribe

Spokane Tribe of Indians

Squaxin Island Tribe

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

Tulalip Tribes of Washington


Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission

Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin

Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

St. Croix Chippewa Housing Authority

Grand Total

Justice Department honors Healing Arts Program for Tribal sexual assault victims

MAYETTA, Kan., April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Department of Justice will honor the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation’s Tribal Victim Services program for creating a healing arts program for sexual assault victims.  Attorney General Eric Holder will present the program with an award during the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week awards ceremony on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

“These committed individuals are being honored for their dedication to assisting and supporting victims of crime all across the country,” said Attorney General Eric Holder . “Their actions inspire all Americans, to do what we can, each in our own way, to help lessen the physical, emotional and financial impacts of crime on people in our communities.”

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation’s Tribal Victim Services (TVS) program will receive the Professional Innovation in Victim Services Award, recognizing a program, organization or individual who helped to expand the reach of victims’ rights and services.  

TVS developed a program to encourage cultural healing through art to assist tribal crime victims in sharing their experiences, thoughts and fears.  They created an artistic “tree” for healing called the Community Story Tree Project, which consists of 72 canvas panels representing the community’s hopes and dreams for tribal families, survivors, children, service providers, professional elders and tribal leaders.

In addition to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, Attorney General Holder will recognize 12 other individuals and organizations for their outstanding efforts on behalf of crime victims.  Descriptions and videos of the honorees are available at the Office for Victims of Crime’s Gallery:

President Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, calling for renewed emphasis on, and sensitivity to, the rights of victims.  National Crime Victims’ Rights Week will be observed this year from April 21-27.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lou Leary , provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has six components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. For more information about OJP, please visit:

First National Indian Country training on investigation and prosecution of non-fatal strangulation offenses

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Department of Justice’s National Indian Country Training Initiative (NICTI) partnered with the National Strangulation Training Institute to deliver the first-ever national Indian Country training on the investigation and prosecution of non-fatal strangulation and suffocation offenses.  The training, held from Jan. 29 – Feb. 1, 2013, drew attendance from over 50 federal and tribal participants, representing 17 tribes, U.S. Attorney’s Offices, the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Students included prosecutors, law enforcement, advocates, paramedics and sexual assault nurse examiners.
The training, held at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, S.C., provided an in-depth examination of the mechanics of strangulation and suffocation from a medical, legal and law enforcement perspective. In addition to substantive information on strangulation and suffocation, students received information on how to effectively train others in their community about the investigation and prosecution of strangulation crimes and how to serve as an expert witness on the issue in court.

 “Strangulation has been identified as one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence and sexual assault. Expert training in this area is critical as external signs of strangulation are absent in over half of all victims. Death can occur without any external marks at all,” said Leslie A. Hagen, National Indian Country Training Coordinator.
“If we can prevent even one homicide by early prosecution of an abuser when he strangles his partner and she survives, all our work will be worth it,” said Gael Strack, the Project Director of the National Strangulation Training Institute and CEO of the National Family Justice Center Alliance.

“When men choke women, those men might as well be raising their right hand and saying ‘I am a killer’ to everyone that is paying attention,” said Casey Gwinn, President of the National Family Justice Center Alliance and faculty at this week’s training. “After 20 years of research and practice, it is clear that men who choke women are the same men who are likely to later kill those women, kill children, and kill police officers.” 
Facts about strangulation:

  • Strangulation is more common than professionals have realized. Recent studies have now shown that 34 percent of abused pregnant women report being “choked” (Bullock, 2006); 47 percent of female domestic violence victims reported being “choked” (Block, 2000) and most experts believe the rate is higher given the minimization by victims and the lack of education. 
  • Victims of multiple strangulation “who had experienced more than one strangulation attack, on separate occasions, by the same abuser, reported neck and throat injuries, neurologic disorders and psychological disorders with increased frequency”. (Smith,  2001)
  • Almost half of all domestic violence homicide victims had experienced at least one episode of non-fatal strangulation prior to a lethal violent incident (Glass, Sage, 2008).  Victims of prior non-fatal strangulation are 800 percent more likely of later becoming a homicide victim. (Glass, et al, 2008).
  • Strangulation is more serious than professionals have realized. Loss of consciousness can occur within 5 to 10 seconds and death within 4 to 5 minutes. (Watch, 2009; Hawley, McClane, 2001). The seriousness of the internal injuries may take a few hours to be appreciated and delayed death can occur days later. (Hawley, McClane, 2001).

Because most strangulation victims do not have visible injuries, strangulation cases may be minimized or trivialized by law enforcement, medical and mental health professionals.