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The Oglala Sioux tribal council passed a law against LGBTQ+ hate crimes, making it likely the first Native nation in the U.S. to do so, Indian Country Today reports.

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Hate crimes committed by people in the Oglala Sioux Tribe are now punishable by up to one year in jail. The new law is modeled on a federal hate crime law: the Matthew Shepherd and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Protection Act of 2009.

The Oglala Sioux reservation is in South Dakota, a state that doesn’t specifically protect LGBTQ+ folks in its hate crime laws. But federally recognized Native tribes are considered “domestic dependent nations” and therefore have some autonomy to create their own laws. In July 2019, the Oglala Sioux Tribe became the first to legalize same-sex marriage.

A lesbian couple of the Oglala Sioux Tribe lobbied for the new laws. Monique Mousseau and Felipa DeLeon say they have been repeatedly threatened and “gay-bashed” by fellow tribal members over their sexuality.

“LGBTQ folks and their families and friends on Pine Ridge often contact us for support and advice after their loved ones are attacked or commit suicide,” Mousseau told Indian Country Today. “Although authorities haven’t been keeping data, we know that many suicides on the reservation are related to gay-bashing and shaming.”

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The couple hopes the new hate crime law will help protect LGBTQ+ youth in particular.

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“We need to protect our children,” DeLeon said. “I have children and grandchildren. I don’t know how they will identify themselves when they grow up but I want to know they will be safe.”

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Daily Updates from Oglala Sioux Tribal Councilwoman Nakina Mills, Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Remembering Our Past, While Improving Our Future. Tribal Pass - OST & Art 4 Show Path Parent App 610840: JASEM: Just Another Shooter with Electronic Music Contact email protected App 804070: Road of Dust and Rust Contact email protected App 470270: Tribal Pass Child. The Oglala Sioux Tribe passes hate crime law protecting its LGBTQ citizens Monday, September 23, 2019 The Oglala Sioux Tribe may be first to pass a hate crime law providing protections for LBGTQ and two spirit people, but citizens remain divided over decision By Mary Annette Pember. The Oglala Sioux Tribe may be first to pass a hate crime law providing protections for LBGTQ and two spirit people, but citizens remain divided over decision. The road to history-making can be rocky for any community. So it was for the Oglala Sioux Tribe on September 4, 2019, when the tribal council voted to.

Only 35 out of 573 federally recognized tribes have legalized same-sex marriage.

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