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Injustice in Indian Country

Jurisdiction, American Law, and Sexual Violence Against Native Women


Amy L. Casselman

Living at the intersection of multiple identities in the United States can be dangerous. This is especially true for Native women who live on the more than 56 million acres that comprise America’s Indian Country – the legal term for American Indian reservations and other land held in trust for Native people.
Today, due to a complicated system of criminal jurisdiction, non-Native Americans can commit crimes against American Indians in much of Indian Country with virtual impunity. This has created what some call a modern day «hunting ground» in which Native women are specifically targeted by non-Native men for sexual violence.
In this urgent and timely book, author Amy L. Casselman exposes the shameful truth of how the American government has systematically divested Native nations of the basic right to protect the people in their own communities. A problem over 200 years in the making, Casselman highlights race and gender in federal law to challenge the argument that violence against Native women in Indian country is simply collateral damage from a complex but necessary legal structure. Instead, she demonstrates that what’s happening in Indian country is part of a violent colonial legacy – one that has always relied on legal and sexual violence to disempower Native communities as a whole.
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Chapter Two: Literature Review and Methodology


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Literature Review and Methodology

To demonstrate the unique contributions of this research, this chapter explores three important bodies of scholarship central to addressing jurisdictional conflicts in the prosecution of sexual violence against Native women in Indian country: federal Indian law and policy; sexual violence against Native women; and agency and self-determination strategies in Native communities. In this chapter, I argue that existing scholarship fails to contextualize jurisdictional conflicts in a history of colonial violence while framing solutions that enfranchise the Native community. As I review each body of work, I use its shortcomings to craft effective methodological interventions that enable me to fully theorize American jurisdiction and sexual violence in Indian country while centering the experiences of Native women.

Framing Jurisdiction Under Federal Indian Policy

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