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Intertribal Technical Assistance Working Group (ITWG)

The Intertribal Technical Assistance Working Group (ITWG) is a voluntary working group of Tribal representatives who may exchange views, information, and advice, peer-to-peer, about how Tribes may best implement VAWA 2022 Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction (STCJ). This includes discussions on how to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, obstruction of justice, and assaults against tribal justice personnel. The ITWG also addresses the need to recognize victims’ rights and safety needs, and safeguard defendants’ rights.


The ITWG promotes a peer-to-peer technical assistance exchange that covers a broad set of issues, including drafting stronger Tribal codes addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, violations of protection orders, stalking, sex trafficking, child violence, obstruction of justice, and assaults against Tribal justice personnel. In addition, peer discussions include victim-centered protocols and policies, improving public defender systems, analyzing detention and correctional options for non-Indians, designing more broadly representative jury pools and strategies for increasing juror compliance with a jury summons.

The ITWG has proven to be a productive and useful mechanism for Tribes to share information and best practices among themselves. Tribes meet to discuss challenges, ask questions, and jointly strategize about how to overcome obstacles. With the logistical support and substantive expertise of a group of DOJ-funded technical assistance providers, the Tribes participating in the ITWG have tackled many difficult questions and have developed a collection of resources that make it easier for Tribes preparing to implement STCJ. The ITWG continues to serve as an important resource for the implementing Tribes as they encounter new questions and challenges. Tribes consistently say that the ITWG is the single most helpful thing for them as they implement and exercise STCJ.

One tribe that regularly attends the ITWG meetings described their experience as follows:

One benefit of immeasurable importance was–and is–the in-person ITWG Meetings. The in-person ITWG Meetings provided a forum for Tribes to collectively: review and analyze VAWA 2013 to identify requirements for exercising criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians in domestic violence cases; critically analyze these requirements in relation to the resources required; create solutions to challenges; share victories; share challenges; share resources; request guidance; anticipate threats to sovereignty; brainstorm responses; and build a united voice in protection of Tribal sovereignty and Tribal Citizens victimized by domestic and sexual violence. The Native Nations that implemented a VAWA 2013-compliant domestic violence code early on in ITWG graciously guided the remaining Nations by openly sharing their experiences at ITWG Meetings. They provided tremendous guidance to the Nations still in the planning stages. These conversations delved deeper into the practical–and often unexpected–challenges as the conversations were no longer hypothetical. Their openness enabled our tribe to be proactive in the planning process. 

It is important to note that the problematic provisions in VAWA 2013, as well as the overall political climate, including that we expect continuing challenges to Tribal sovereignty generally and VAWA 2013 specifically, created a commitment among the participating Native Nations to collectively work together to defend both. The shared understanding of the pain and frustration of those VAWA 2013 provisions that reflect ignorance of Tribal Justice Systems was not only comforting, but empowering. These deeply emotional ties will keep the Tribes that participated in ITWG connected.

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