Legal Momentum is thrilled to congratulate our colleague Sarah Deer on being named a 2014 MacArthur Fellow. Sarah has long been a member of the National Judicial Education Program faculty, and has worked with Legal Momentum to educate judges across the country about the serious problem of sexual and domestic violence against Native American women, who suffer one of the highest per capita rates of violent crime in the world. These uniquely high perpetration rates are compounded by the limited jurisdiction of tribal courts under U.S. federal law, so that offenders are not being held accountable.
Sarah is a committed activist in the movement to end violence against Native women, a professor of law and co-director of the Indian Law Clinic at William Mitchell College of Law, and a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) nation. As a nationally recognized expert on violence against Native American women, her scholarship focuses on the intersection of tribal law and victim’s rights. She is a co-author of two textbooks on tribal law, Introduction to Tribal Legal Studies and Tribal Criminal Law and Procedure, as well as numerous articles.
Sarah has served on the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Domestic Violence and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and has won numerous awards for her work. Her efforts were instrumental in passing the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which gives tribal courts the power to prosecute non–Native Americans who assault Native spouses or dating partners or violate a protection order on tribal lands.
According to The New York Times, she has said she will use her fellowship “to elevate the voices of such women, who she contends have been failed by both tribal courts and federal laws.” We look forward to the continuation of Sarah’s efforts to continue to educate the public and support Native American women who confront sexual and domestic violence, and to working together in the future. Congratulations, Sarah.