WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. issued the following statement Wednesday before attending a White House ceremony to witness President Joe Biden sign legislation that reauthorizes and expands the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

“I commend President Biden for signing bipartisan legislation that reauthorizes and expands the landmark Violence Against Women Act. While this reauthorization is long overdue, it does strengthen federal laws protecting our Native mothers, sisters and daughters from domestic violence. This law also ensures that these laws are enforced on our tribal lands and that the perpetrators who commit these heinous acts, both Native and non-Native, be duly punished,” Chief Hoskin said. “The Cherokee Nation has long championed for the reauthorization of VAWA and has prioritized protecting Cherokee women and children on our reservation. Today’s VAWA reauthorization allows our Cherokee Nation District Court to continue exercising special tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Natives who commit dating violence, domestic violence and violations of civil protection orders on our reservation. In the past year Cherokee Nation has prosecuted more than a hundred such cases by non-Natives committing these acts of domestic violence against our citizens. With these expanded VAWA provisions, we will be able to increase the prosecution of non-Indians who harm our Cherokee children and tribal justice personnel.”

VAWA reauthorization will also help with federal grants and additional resources and allow Cherokee Nation marshals to access national crime databases to help deter and solve more crimes on tribal lands.

In addition to the Cherokee Nation expanding its criminal justice system following the historic McGirt decision, Chief Hoskin has worked to upgrade the tribe’s ONE FIRE victim services program, which provides victim services and domestic violence prevention services to citizens throughout the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

The volume of calls to the ONE FIRE office since the McGirt decision has increased by 25 percent, serving nearly 500 citizens by providing resources, including law enforcement protection, civil legal assistance, housing, job placement, educational assistance, health care and counseling.

The Cherokee Nation built a new ONE FIRE victim services headquarters in Tahlequah, and a new transitional housing center in Stilwell to help Cherokee women and children who have suffered from the hands of domestic violence.

Among the Cherokee Nation’s tribal government workforce, more than 3,000 employees have also been trained to identify the signs of domestic violence in order to help prevent it after Chief Hoskin appointed a task force and signed a Domestic Violence to Protect Women and Families Executive order.

“We must all commit to advancing full protection and safety of our Native women and children in Indian Country from years of prey and violence,” Chief Hoskin added. “I’m encouraged that federal leaders from the White House to Capitol Hill also recognize the importance of this critical mission.”