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Forgotten Crime Victims: The Need for a Comprehensive and Focused Reform Effort in Response to Domestic Violence in American Indian Communities

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Those working on behalf of victims of domestic violence crimes in the United States have struggled for decades to create an effective response to victim needs. This movement has achieved some significant victories with respect to legal reform and the creation of effective resources at the local and national level. Yet, all victims are not the same. This article adds to the current discussion regarding American Indian victims of domestic violence by encouraging a more comprehensive and focused approach to reform. Academics and advocates have written on the statutory barriers currently in place and certain problems with United States Supreme Court jurisprudence regarding jurisdiction over crimes committed on Indian land against American Indian women. While an important and recognized part of reform, these issues are not the sole pitfalls in the response thus far. This article posits that, at the same time, any reform must also foster the development of Native prosecutorial resources and guidelines, as well as financial and educational opportunities for Native women. Moreover, a more culturally informed approach to solving the domestic violence plight in American Indian communities is needed and would ideally take into account other factors. By considering the unique social, historical, and cultural circumstances of American Indian victims, advocates and policymakers can create more well-tailored solutions to a complex problem. This article offers many of the factors that should ideally inform the debate surrounding recent legislation in the United States with a hope of spurring more comprehensive action on behalf of victims; however, this article does not represent a complete solution to a uniquely sensitive and complicated issue. More must be accomplished for all victims of domestic violence crimes in the United States and abroad with regard to creating culturally informed solutions.

Affiliations: 1: J.D.; S.U.N.Y. at Buffalo Law School, Buffalo, New York, USA,


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