News and Press Releases

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Awarded Cross-Designated Tribal Prosecutor Position By Department of Justice

June 6, 2012

BISMARCK – The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women announced today that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and three other tribes in Nebraska, New Mexico, and Montana will be awarded cooperative agreements to cross-designate tribal prosecutors to pursue violence against women cases in both tribal and federal courts.

The goal of the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) program is to train eligible tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable criminal offense is prosecuted in tribal court, federal court or both. The program enables tribal prosecutors to bring violence against women cases in federal court and to serve as co-counsel with federal prosecutors on felony investigations and prosecutions of offenses arising out of their respective tribal communities.

“We know that violence against Native women has reached epidemic proportions,” said Bea Hanson, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice. “Restoring safety for Native women requires the type of sustained cooperation between the federal and tribal justice systems that we see in the jurisdictions participating in our Tribal SAUSA project.”

In Bismarck, ND, U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon said, “The hiring and cross-designation of a lawyer to prosecute domestic violence cases in tribal court at Standing Rock and in federal court in North Dakota and South Dakota will help us counter the threat of domestic violence that Native mothers, wives, sisters and daughters face every day. Cooperative efforts between the North Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office and the tribal prosecutors like this OVW cross-designation program can help break the cycle of domestic violence for North Dakota citizen who live in Indian country.”

Through this special initiative, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) will support salary, travel, and training costs of four tribal SAUSAs, who will work in collaboration with the U.S. Attorneys Offices in the Districts of Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Specifically, OVW will award cooperative agreements to four federally recognized tribes to select qualified applicants in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney Offices to serve as cross-designated prosecutors. These prosecutors will maintain an active violence against women crimes caseload, in tribal and/or federal court, while also helping to promote higher quality investigations, improved training, and better inter-governmental

Tailored to meet the particular needs of the participating jurisdiction, these pilot programs are designed to improve the quality of cases, the coordination of resources and the communication of priorities both within and between the various law enforcement agencies working in this area.

The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from the Department's 2009 Tribal Nation Listening Session on Public Safety and Law Enforcement, and its annual tribal consultation on violence against women. The Tribal SAUSA initiative is another step in the Justice Department's on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities, and represents a partnership between the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), the Executive Office of US Attorney's (EOUSA) and the US Attorney's Offices (USAOs) in Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota. Tailored to meet the particular needs of the participating tribes, this pilot project is designed to increase the successful prosecution of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in Indian Country.

The recipients of these awards are:
• Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico
• Fort Belknap Tribe in Montana
• Winnebago Tribe in Nebraska
• Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in North Dakota and South Dakota



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