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Legal Information: Tribal

Abuse in Tribal Communities

November 6, 2019

If the abuser is a non-Indian, can a tribal court enforce a protection order?

Tribes have the ability to enforce a protection order. In addition, tribes can investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence non-Indians who commit domestic violence against Indian spouses or dating partners or violate a protection order in Indian country under VAWA’s special domestic violence jurisdiction. The law requires that the non-Indian have the following connections with the Indian victim and Indian community:

  • s/he lives in the Indian country of the participating tribe;
  • s/he is employed in the Indian country of the participating tribe; or
  • s/he is the spouse, intimate partner, or dating partner of:
    • a member of the participating tribe; or
    • an Indian who resides in the Indian country of the participating tribe.1

You can find more information about VAWA’s special domestic violence jurisdiction on the National Congress of American Indians website.

1 25 U.S.C.A. § 1304(b)(4)(B), (c)