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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A bill giving American Indian tribes more authority to combat crime on reservations has cleared Congress and is headed to President Barack Obama, who said he looks forward to signing it.
Obama said the Tribal Law and Order Act, which passed the U.S. House Wednesday, is an important step in addressing the "unique public safety challenges" that confront reservations.
"The federal government's relationship with tribal governments, its obligations under treaty and law, and our values as a nation require that we do more to improve public safety in tribal communities," Obama said. "And this act will help us achieve that."
The Senate approved the measure in June.
The bill came as a response to what Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said is a crisis situation on Indian reservations, where violent crime continues to devastate communities at rates much higher than the national average.
The measure provides for the appointment of special U.S. attorneys to ensure violent crimes are prosecuted. It also revamps training for reservation police, expands the sentencing authority of tribal courts from one to three years, and improves the collection and reporting of Indian crime data.
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