S. 2785

Tribal Youth and Community Protection Act of 2016

Testimony of

Michael Black

Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs

United States Department of the Interior

to the

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

United States Senate


S. 2785

May 18, 2016

Chairman Barrasso, Vice-Chairman Tester, and members of the Committee, my name is Mike Black and I am the Director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) at the Department of the Interior (Department).  Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony before this Committee on S. 2785, the Tribal Youth and Community Protection Act of 2016.  The Department  supports S. 2785.

The Obama Administration has made it a priority to improve the health, welfare, and safety of Tribal communities.  Two separate federal taskforces, the Indian Law and Order Commission and the Attorney General's Task Force on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence, concluded local control is the key for promoting public safety in Indian Country.  The tribal provisions in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization of 2013 employed this principle and since its enactment, a number of tribes are making strides in combatting domestic violence.  S. 2785 continues to move in this direction by strengthening tribes' ability to protect their communities and prosecute non-Indian offenders.

S. 2785

S. 2785 would reauthorize Section 4206 and 4218(b) of the Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1986 (25 U.S.C. Section 2412 and Section 2451(b) respectively) to authorize funding for Tribal Action Plans (Section 4206) and Training Programs (Section 4218(b) for fiscal years 2016 through 2020.  The Department supports this reauthorization.

S. 2785 would amend 25 U.S.C. Section 1304, Tribal jurisdiction over crimes of domestic violence, to include Tribal jurisdiction over crimes of child violence and drug offenses.  S. 2785 amends 25 U.S.C. Section 1304 definitions for dating violence and domestic violence to include “felony and misdemeanor violations” of the Tribe’s criminal law within its own lands.  S. 2785 also amends Section 1304 by including definitions for “caregiver,” “child violence,” “drug offense,” and “related conduct.”

The Department recommends changing the “Tribal Action Plan” (TAP) to a “Tribal Strategic Action Plan” (TSAP) based on feedback received from Tribes regarding current tribal practices. Such change would allow for plans that are driven by tribes, rather than the Federal government.  The Department recommends adding language to 25 U.S.C. Section 2412 (c) provisions that provide more deference to the Tribal Strategic Action Plan.

S. 2785 also amends the current authorized amount of appropriations from $5 million to $10 million for fiscal years 2016 through 2020 pursuant to DOJ grant programs for tribes under subsection (f).  Since these amounts represent DOJ resources specifically authorized to strengthen and support tribal criminal justice systems, we are open to continuing conversations about the appropriate reporting mechanism.


Thank you for providing the Department the opportunity to prove input into S. 2785.  The Department supports S. 2785 and recommends a few changes as noted above.  I am available to answer any questions the Committee may have.

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