Deb Haaland, representative from New Mexico, delivered a message to the Democratic National Convention on inclusion and indigenous peoples.
Savanna’s law will establish national law enforcement guidelines between the federal government and Native American tribes to help track down, solve, and prevent crimes against Native Americans. The bill is named for Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a pregnant 22-year-old tribe from Spirit Lake, North Dakota, who was killed in 2017.
The bipartisan bill was passed last month after the US Senate passed unanimously in March. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski reintroduced the bill after former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp proposed it in 2017.
“For too long the crisis of missing and murdered Indian women was unknown outside of the Indian country,” Heitkamp told the USA TODAY in a statement on Sunday. “When I first passed Savanna’s law in 2017, I wrote this bill to take a critical first step to address and raise awareness of this crisis by bringing these women out of the shadows, not making them invisible.”
She added, “This law was finally signed. And it came just before Indigenous Peoples Day – a reminder that the US government has so much more to do to mend broken promises to indigenous communities.”
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Trump tweeted Saturday, “I was proud to sign Savanna’s Law and the Non-Invisible Law. We also donated $ 295 million to aid victims of public safety and crime. DON’T forget it!”
The bill will require law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, tribal, and local levels to update and create logs to address missing or murdered Indians. The U.S. Department of Justice must train law enforcement agencies on how to enter data, inform the public about the database, help tribes and indigenous communities enter information into the database, develop guidelines for responding to missing or murdered tribes, and provide technical assistance and law enforcement to tribes and report data on missing or murdered Indians.
Murder is the third leading cause of death for Native American women in Alaska, according to the Urban Indian Health Institute. According to the UIHI, 5,712 cases of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls were reported in 2016. However, only 116 cases have been logged in the DOJ database.
In 2018, North Dakota-based Brooke Crews was sentenced to life in prison for killing Greywind and cutting her baby from the womb. The baby survived.
Contributors: Nora Mabie, Great Falls Grandstand (Mont.); The Associated Press
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