Republicans Vote Against Strengthening Enforcement For Sexual Assault on Native American Women

When it comes to protecting people, the Republican Party has built its reputation on the idea that it is strong on defense and prosecution.  That makes it even more puzzling to learn the Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and 91 other Republicans voted against a bill that would make it easier to investigate crimes on tribal lands, especially those that involve sexual assault.

From the Minnesota Independent:

A bill aimed at helping Native American law enforcement investigate rape and other crimes by non-Indians on tribal lands passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last week with overwhelming bipartisan support. Only one Minnesotan — Republican Michele Bachmann — voted against it.

The Tribal Law and Order Act passed last Wednesday as an amendment to HR 725 on a 326-92 vote, with votes from Minnesota Republicans Erik Paulsen and John Kline and Democrats Keith Ellison, James Oberstar, Betty McCollum, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz. It gives tribal police more authority in seeking prosecution of non-Natives who commit crimes on American Indian lands.

So why did Rep. Bachmann vote against a bill that would help protect women and other victims of crime?  No one seems to be able to get an answer.

Bachmann’s communications director, Dave Dziock, didn’t return the Minnesota Independent’s request for comment on the Sixth District Republican’s no-vote.

Republicans elsewhere, however, have questioned the bill’s price tag, which some have estimated at $1.1 billion.

That’s a “myth,” Deer says. “There’s been some misunderstanding that it was going to be a high-dollar bill,” she told the Independent, noting that “there’s no mandatory spending” in the bill.

Deer wouldn’t speculate on why Bachmann opposes this important boost for Indian women, which President Obama is expected to sign into law soon, but she expressed some surprise.

“I’m not sure why she didn’t. It’s very much about prosecution. It’s a very law-and-order bill.”

According to Amnesty International, Native American women suffer sexual attacks at an alarmingly high rate.

Amnesty International USA addressed the issue in its 2007 report, Maze of Injustice: the Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence in the USA.

The report exposed the disproportionately high levels of rape and sexual violence that Native American and Alaska Native women suffer – 2.5 times higher than for non-native women in the United States.

78 Republicans and all Democrats voted for the bill, which will be signed into law on Thursday, July 29th.

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  • squirrely-girl

    It gives tribal police more authority in seeking prosecution of non-Natives who commit crimes on American Indian lands.


    Because this would mean giving power to a disenfranchised group… as well as setting (additional) precedent for the sovereignty of their nations. God forbid the tribal police figure out a way to use this to prosecute non-Natives committing other crimes… such as the US govt/DEA agents burning Native fields of hemp. :/

    • julie-watkins

      about an earlier article & discussion about predictable bad behavior after disasters (Haiti, Katrina, etc.). It seems a certain fraction of men will go look for victims if they figure there won’t be repercussions.

      And if the resistence is because not wanting certain precedents, that’s just saying (as if we didn’t know) that the victims aren’t worth much. Fume.

  • john-fast-horse

    I am an enrolled Lakota Sioux from the Pine Ridge rez in SD. Sexual assaults/rapes even a few deaths have been occurring on Indian reservations throughout Native America. These human rights violations have reached endemic levels. There are roving gangs that prowl the rez looking for young women to rape or kill. These gang members are total cowards for attacking innocent young women.


    The primary problem is that these felonies occur on the rez. Out of state’s jurisdictions. The tribal courts on many Indian reservations turn a blind eye to the alarming and growing number of sexual assaults taking place on the rez. Thank god for President Obama. This bill will allow tribes to hire more tribal police. This bill will help save Native women from being sexually violated. But, most importantly, it will put the cowards of these atrocities behind bars where they belong.


    To get a better understanding of the problem. Watch this video that recently appeared on cable TV’s Current Channel. A show called “Vanguard” ran a story called “Rape on the Reservation.” I must warn you this program is very graphic and small children should not view it. Simply click on the link below:



    Pilamaya, (thank you)

    John Fast Horse

    Lakota, Sioux

  • squirrely-girl



    Thank you for sharing this video – I teach university and college courses on the Psychology of Women and Gender as well as Human Sexuality and I’m always looking for new materials to share with my classes that highlight social issues in diverse contexts. It’s one thing for me to stand in front of a class and say, “rape on reservations is a problem.” It’s an entirely different experience for my students to SEE the effects of these problems visually. Thank you!