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Tribes now free to prosecute non-Indians for certain crimes

By FELICIA FONSECA
Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — American Indian tribes across the country now have the authority to prosecute non-Indians for a limited set of crimes that center on domestic violence.

The National Congress of American Indians says authority was extended Saturday to all tribes that meet certain guidelines.

Three tribes in Arizona, Oregon and Washington state have exercised that power for more than a year under a federal pilot project.

Tribes lacked criminal jurisdiction under a 1978 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

But the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 allowed tribes to charge non-Indians who are married or in partnerships with tribal members domestic violence crimes.

Supporters are hopeful it will decrease the high rate of violence on reservations.

Critics say the tribes’ increased authority is sure to be challenged in federal courts.

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