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Anti-Violence Strategy

U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon and Attorney General Eric Holder listen to tribal members testify at the Native American Issues Subcommittee Field Hearing in Pine Ridge, South Dakota on July 28, 2011.

U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon and Attorney General Eric Holder listen to tribal members testify at the Native American Issues Subcommittee Field Hearing in Pine Ridge, South Dakota on July 28, 2011.

“I do not believe that Native American people can overcome decades and decades of isolation and poverty until, first and foremost, they feel safe in their homes and communities. So, as the chief federal law enforcement officer for North Dakota, my goal is to improve public safety in Indian Country.”

Timothy Q. Purdon, United States Attorney, District of North Dakota

The Anti-Violence Strategy is the culmination of our consultations with the tribes in North Dakota and with our federal, tribal, state, and local law enforcement partners.  Over the past ten months, the North Dakota United States Attorney’s Office (USAOND) has conducted extensive consultations about public safety with tribal leaders on their reservations.  Additionally, we have reached out to law enforcement agencies which have a role in tribal communities and vigorously solicited their input on how to improve public safety.  On March 16, 2011, we brought the tribes and law enforcement agencies together at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota for the first North Dakota United States Attorney’s Office Tribal Listening Conference.  This Anti-Violence Strategy is the result of the these consultations, as well as the recently enacted Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, and the Department of Justice’s Indian Country Initiative.

The Anti-Violence Strategy begins with an overview of the District of North Dakota and the tribal communities within the District.  The Strategy then describes a framework for our efforts to reduce violence in tribal communities.  It sets forth a three-pronged approach toward violence prevention that is focused on enforcement, prevention, and reentry.  The Strategy also includes a summary of the changes we are making within the USAOND to take action in furtherance of each of these three prongs.  Finally, it includes an addendum specific to each tribe which summarizes many of the tribe-specific challenges that were raised at the Tribal Listening Conference, as well as specific actions to be undertaken by the USAOND to address these concerns. 
Key aspects of this strategy include: 

Committing Additional Prosecutive Resources to Indian country: 

We have assigned an additional Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) the responsibility for the prosecution of violent crimes in tribal communities.  This has increased the number of AUSAs at the USAOND assigned to prosecute violent crimes on the four high-referral reservations from three to four.  This change represents a 33-percent increase in the number of AUSAs at the USAOND with responsibility for prosecution of violent crimes in our District’s four high- prosecution referral tribal communities.  Further, each AUSA is now assigned prosecution responsibility for a single reservation.  This allows each of them to focus tribal consultation efforts toward a single tribal community.  This change will result in additional USAOND resources being directed to the enforcement prong of our Anti-Violence Strategy.

Implementing a Community Prosecution Model: 

Each AUSA assigned responsibility for a reservation is now being required to physically visit that reservation several times per year, in addition to case-related travel.  While on the reservation, the AUSA will put an emphasis on communicating with our tribal law enforcement and tribal court partners.  Our Tribal Liaison and the United States Attorney will also make additional visits to each reservation in North Dakota throughout the year to engage in government-to-government consultations with the Tribal Chairs and Tribal Councils.  These changes, and the activities of the AUSAs, Tribal Liaison, and USA while on the reservations, will result in additional USAOND resources being directed to the enforcement and prevention prongs of our Anti-Violence Strategy. 

Launching of the Annual Tribal Listening Conference: 

We will make the North Dakota United States Attorney’s Office’s Tribal Listening Conference  an annual event.  Nearly 150 people attended the Conference held on March 16, 2011, at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota.  The editorial page of the Bismarck Tribune wrote that the “discussion, dialog and partnership possibilities [at the Conference] were exciting and encouraging” and that the spirit of co-operation and listening evidenced at the Conference “could lead to something big.”  State’s Largest Minority has Huge Impact,” Bismarck Tribune, March 20, 2011.  Making this event an annual occurrence will result in additional USAOND resources being directed to the prevention and reentry prongs of our Anti-Violence Strategy.

This Anti-Violence Strategy will not solve all of our public safety challenges in tribal communities.  Further, it is not intended to be the final word on public safety on the reservations in North Dakota.  Rather, our hope is that the Strategy is the first step in a new era of government-to-government consultation and cooperation between the USAOND and the tribes in North Dakota and that this document opens a new conversation with tribal communities and with our law enforcement partners.  The Anti-Violence Strategy is subject to growth and change as lessons are learned from shared experiences.  As such, we invite feedback from tribal members and law enforcement officials.  Having taken this new step toward safer tribal communities together, we look forward to continuing this journey with you.

 

 
Timothy Q. Purdon, United States Attorney, District of North Dakota
 
June 15, 2011

 

To view the Anti-Violence Strategy, click here for a PDF copy.

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