Does Expanding Tribal Jurisdiction Improve Tribal Economies: Lessons from Arizona

By Adam Crepelle & Thomas Stratmann. 

In 2013, Congress reaffirmed tribes’ inherent authority to prosecute all persons who commit dating violence, domestic violence, or violate a protective order against Indian women on tribal land in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA). Congress required tribes to comply with strict procedural safeguards to implement VAWA. Although VAWA was not designed to stimulate tribal economies, its due process provisions may be considered judicial improvements. Stronger judiciaries have been consistently linked to greater economic performance. Accordingly, we test whether implementing VAWA improved tribal economies. This analysis compares the income growth of VAWA-implementing tribes in Arizona to neighboring non-implementing tribes. Our findings show that incomes grew faster for VAWA-implementing tribes than for non-implementing tribes in Arizona. Full Article.