Annual Tribal Consultation on Violence Against Native Women Mandated Under the VAWA 2005 Safety for Indian Women Title

Congress amended VAWA in 2005 to include a tribal title by which it requires an annual tribal consultation to be organized by the USDOJ and Indian tribes dedicated to addressing violence against Indian women.

“Under the consultation mandate, the federal departments—Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Interior—must each consult annually with Indian nations on issues concerning the safety of Indian women. To continue to increase protections for Native women, Indian nations need to continuously identify the roadblocks and solutions that will allows us as governments to protect women.” — Juana Majel, Co-Chair, NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women.

An annual consultation between the United States and Indian nations as governments is on the highest level a discussion of the legal, policy, and administrative issues essential to safeguard the lives of Indian women and the successful implementation of VAWA as governments. This nation-to-nation interaction provides an avenue for tribal governments and the United States to discuss matters that at the broadest level impact the safety of Indian women. It provides an opportunity to examine and address important issues that impact all Indian nations in providing safety for women.

Based on the various concerns identified from the consultations (2006-2013), Congress strengthened the consultation mandate when it reauthorized VAWA in 2013. These amendments addressed concerns from tribal leaders about the consultation process allowing for mutual dialogue as governments of the legal and policy roadblocks to the safety of Native women.

The VAWA 2013 amendments established a 120-day notification period of the date and location of the annual consultation, requires the Department of Interior to attend, and the Attorney General to submit to Congress a report of specific details of the consultation and progress made to address the concerns.

“For Tribal Consultation to be effective, it must be comprehensive and ongoing, allowing for review of the progress made to address the issues by federal departments, and also discussion of why old barriers continue to exist. The VAWA consultation mandate is intended to support this process so over the years substantive progress can be made to increase the safety for Native women”—Michelle Demmert, Co-Chair, 34NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women.

VAWA Tribal Consultation Mandate
Safety for Indian Women, VAWA 2005 §903 and VAWA 2013 §903

(a) In General—The Attorney General shall conduct annual consultations with Indian tribal governments concerning the federal administration of tribal funds and programs established under this Act, the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (Title IV of Public Law 103-322; 108 Stat. 1902), and the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 (division B of Public Law 106-386; 114 Stat. 1491).

(b) Recommendations—During consultations under subsection (a), the Secretary of the Department
of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General shall solicit recommendations from Indian tribes concerning—

  1. administering tribal funds and programs;
  2. enhancing the safety of Indian women from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; and
  3. strengthening the federal response to such violent crimes.

VAWA 2013 Amendments to the VAWA 2005 Consultation Mandate Require:
  • The Attorney General provides 120 days’ notice to Indian tribes of the date, time, and location of the annual consultation.
  • The Secretary of Interior attends the annual consultation.
  • The Attorney General submits to Congress an annual report that:
    • Contains the recommendations made by Indian tribes during the year covered by the report
    • ​​​​​​​Describes actions taken during the year to respond to recommendations made during the year or a previous year
    • Describes how the Attorney General will work in coordination and collaboration with Indian tribes, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of the Interior to address the recommendations
  • Sex trafficking was added to the list of items to be addressed at the consultation.