780 AM | 96.1 FM 

“YOURS FOR WESTERN ALASKA”

(907) 443-5221

Senator Murkowski Pushes for More Tribal Authority in Prosecuting Crime

Lisa Murkowski
Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is expected to steer the Denali Commission's relocation efforts in the coming years. KNOM file (2015)

Senator Lisa Murkowski took time during the Alaska Federation of Natives convention to discuss her newly introduced legislation that would expand tribal jurisdiction in prosecuting certain violent crimes.

If Murkowski’s Alaska Tribal Public Safety Empowerment Act passes into law, five undetermined villages will become part of a pilot program allowing them to prosecute non-tribal members for certain violent crimes committed on tribal lands.

“The people in these communities need more than nothing. And so, this is what we are trying to do, to allow for just a little bit of expansion of opportunity using the assets that we have.”  

Once tribes are selected for the pilot program, those tribes could exercise their own authority to handle crimes of domestic and dating violence, sexual violence, violation of a protective order, stalking, drug trafficking, and assault of a law enforcement officer.

According to Murkowski, communities without law enforcement and who are primarily Alaska Native would be given priority by the U.S. Attorney General for participation in the pilot.

“We’ve been working with the Department of Justice and the BIA on this to make sure that this works.”

Tribes would be able to use their authority to decide punishment for the crime which could include banishment. Through a memorandum of agreement state agencies would be able to assist tribes across the country with enforcement.

Murkowski’s bill also allows two more tribes to pull together and form tribal consortiums.

“Included within that definition you can expand up to thirty (tribes). We recognize that as a pilot, you want to have enough participants so that you can demonstrate that something like this can work.”

While Congressman Don Young included similar legislation in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, that bill still has to pass through the Senate. Senator Murkowski says she drafted the Alaska Tribal Public Safety Empowerment Act as separate legislation to give Alaska tribes another, perhaps more immediate, resource for enforcing safety in their communities. 

Murkowski didn’t give a timeline for the bill to be discussed in the House but said she is working  with the Department of Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs to refine the legislation. There is not a process in place yet for selecting which tribes would be part of the pilot initiative.

Image at top: Senator Lisa Murkowski speaking at the 2015 AFN convention. Photo from KNOM file.

Share this story

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email

Recent Posts

MS Westerdam Passengers Recall Icy Approach to Nome

Holland America’s MS Westerdam has arrived in Nome. The cruise ship that holds over 1,900 passengers is anchored just off the coast of Nome, too big to dock in the port. Small tenders that hold about 80 passengers each are ferrying visitors to and from the shore throughout the day.

Read More »

First-Ever KNOM Radio Music Fest Draws a Crowd, Drives Donations

Selma Casagranda serenaded audience members with a few of her original songs. Casagranda is from Seward and one of four finalists from KNOM’s 2023 American Idol search. Audience members joined the King Island dance group for an invitational dance. One of KNOM’s 2023 American Idol search finalists, Martin Paul of

Read More »

June 20: Rick Thoman’s Climate Highlight for Western Alaska

The following is a transcript from Rick Thoman’s weekly “Climate Highlight for Western Alaska” provided to KNOM Radio. Thoman is a Climate Specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The largest wildfire on the Seward Peninsula since 2019, the Goldbug Fire,

Read More »

Westerdam: First Visitors Expected Around 8 a.m.

Holland America’s MS Westerdam cruise ship will anchor just outside of the Nome Harbor the morning of June 21, bringing with it a wave of tourists to Nome.  According to City of Nome Harbormaster Lucas Stotts, the ship’s passengers will first arrive by tender around 7:45 a.m. The last tender

Read More »

More

Newsletter:

Work for Us:

Jobs

Contact

Nome:

(907) 443-5221 

Anchorage:

(907) 868-1200 

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.