Washington, D.C. – There are hundreds of Indigenous women/girls across the country disappearing and being murdered.
President Donald Trump recently signed two bills into law Saturday night that have finally developed a strategy to combat an invisible crisis in America.
President Trump is the first president to formally recognize and address this national catastrophe against Native American women/girls.
He signed into law Savanna’s Act, which directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop law enforcement protocols to address the issue.
The second bill signed by Trump was the Not Invisible Act. It tasks the DOJ and the Department of the Interior to make a joint effort, in collaboration with the Indian Tribes, to step up its response when indigenous women go missing, are murdered or are being forced into sex trafficking.
Tonight the Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s act became law. These important pieces of legislation take a crucial first step in ending the #MMIW crisis.
— Deb Haaland (@Deb4CongressNM) October 11, 2020
Savannah’s Act was named after 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind. She was part of the Spirit Lake tribe in North Dakota and was eight months pregnant at the time of her brutal murder in 2017.
In 2018, Brooke Crews of North Dakota was given a life sentence for killing Greywind. Crews cut Greywind’s baby from her womb. Her body was found a week later in a river. Greywind’s baby survived.
Savanna’s Act will establish new national law enforcement guidelines between the federal government and the American Indian tribes to help track, solve, and prevent crimes against Native Americans.
The Senate had unanimously passed the bill in March and the House followed suit on September 21st. The bills were brought to the Senate by former Senator Heidi Heitkamp in 2017, but were stalled in the House. They were recently revived by Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski.
Heitkamp told USA TODAY in a statement:
“For far too long, the crisis of missing and murdered Native American women went unknown outside Indian Country. When I first introduced Savanna’s Act in 2017, I wrote this bill to take a critical first step to help address this crisis and help raise awareness about it by bringing these women out of the shadows and making them not invisible.”
She continued with her statement:
“Finally, this bill was signed into law. And it happened just before Indigenous Peoples’ Day — a reminder that the U.S. government has so much more to do to repair the broken promises to Native communities.”
It seems fitting that Savanna's Act became law the same weekend we honor our Native brothers and sisters on Indigenous Peoples' Day. We just got one step closer to tackling the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women.https://t.co/b5xvs3igSz
— Heidi Heitkamp (@HeidiHeitkamp) October 12, 2020
As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA), Savanna’s Act is a big part of North Dakota Senator John Hoeven’s efforts to improve law enforcement in tribal communities. Hoeven advanced the legislation through the SCIA last November.
Additionally, Senator Hoeven is currently working to advance other laws that would help improve tribal justice and public safety for Indian Communities.
His big push for the Savanah Act helped secure its passing in the Senate earlier this year. Then, it finally made its way to President Trump’s desk.
As the 1st President to formally recognize the issue of Missing & Murdered Native Americans, today, I was proud to sign Savanna’s Act & the Not Invisible Act. We have also provided $295 Million to support public safety & crime victims. Forgotten NO MORE! #OperationLadyJustice
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2020
Another proponent of the act since 2018, Senator Patty Murray said:
“Savanna’s Act is law, and much-needed help for Indigenous women and girls is on the way. New law enforcement tools, coordination, and data will help make sure our Native women and girls get the protection and justice they deserve.
Thank you to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for keeping up this fight with me, and thank you to the Seattle Indian Health Board for making sure this issue got the attention it needed.”
Thank you @realDonaldTrump for signing the Savanna’s Act into law today.
Sadly, Montana’s tribes are too familiar with stories such as Savanna’s, and this law is critical to protecting some of our most vulnerable in our MT tribal communities.
— Steve Daines (@SteveDaines) October 10, 2020
Murray’s office says that 50-percent of all Native American women in the U.S. have been sexually abused, raped, beaten or stalked by someone. At least one-third will inevitably be raped in their lifetime. And oftentimes the offenders are non-natives.
Some good news last night: Trump signed Savanna's Act + the Not Invisible Act into law.
Both laws will finally address a largely invisible crisis in the U.S.: Indigenous women are being murdered and going missing, with next to no data on what's going on. https://t.co/bX4jBEhfwt
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) October 11, 2020
The DOJ shall provide training to local law enforcement agencies on data entry, introduce the database to and educate the public, train tribal authorities on data entry, develop guidelines for responding to missing or murdered Indigenous people, provide technical assistance to tribes and law enforcement agencies and report all data on investigations involving missing or murdered Native Americans.
According to the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI), murder is the third-leading cause of death for American Indian/Alaska Native women. In 2016, there were 5,712 cases reported of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the UIHI reports. Yet, only 116 cases were logged into the DOJ database.
The UIHI reports that there are 506 unique cases of missing and murdered American Indian/Alaska Native women and girls across 71 selected cities. These statistics are probably an underestimate due to no database entry or a lack of information.
The statistics included 128, or 25 percent were missing persons cases, 280 or 56 percent were murder cases and 98 or 19 percent were listed as “status unknown”. The youngest victim was a baby less than a year old, while the oldest victim was 83-years-old.
'Savanna's Act' and the 'Not Invisible Act' are both aimed at protecting Native American women from violence as they are 10 times more likely to be murdered than the U.S. average.
— Cassy Crownover (@crovvnover) October 10, 2020
The top ten cities with the highest number of missing and murdered American Indian/Alaska Native women and girls can be somewhat of a shock. The top city is Seattle, Washington with 45 cases. Second, is Albuquerque, New Mexico with 37 cases.
Then, in order, are Anchorage, Alaska with 31 cases, Tucson, Arizona with 31 and Billings, Montana with 29. Gallup, New Mexico, and Tacoma, Washington tied with 25 cases. Omaha, Nebraska was ninth with 24 cases and San Francisco, California had 17 cases of missing indigenous women.
Some good news: The WH announced that President Trump today signed Savanna's Act and the Not Invisible Act, two pieces of bipartisan legislation which address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women. I wrote about these bills last year:https://t.co/yxWuC7Xlzx
— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) October 10, 2020
The top states with the highest number of missing and murdered American Indian/Alaska Native women and girl’s cases are in New Mexico with 78 cases. Washington has 71 cases of missing women, Arizona had 54 cases, while Alaska had 52.
The cases in Montana were at 41 and California had 40 cases of missing women. Nebraska had 32 cases, Utah had 24 cases, and the two lowest states were Minnesota with 20 cases and Oklahoma with 18.
President Trump posted his announcement on Facebook. There were about 558,000 reactions to the news, 24,000 comments and 80,000 shares. Many expressed gratitude, thanking President Trump for fighting for Native Americans:
“The first president to actually fight this fight… because so many of the OTHERS have been COMPLICIT in the evil!”
“Our Native Americans deserve so much. Thank you, Mr. President.”
“ It is way past due that something is done for the Native Americans!”
“It’s about time a President remembered the Native American family…..did you notice when the left argues that you HAVE TO have a person of color…..no one EVERS mentions Native Americans”
“Thank you for not forgetting about our indigenous women ❤️ What an awesome way to honor Savannah Greywinds memory, She endured a horrific murder. God bless all!”
Savanna’s Act passed
Not Visible Act passed
300 million in grants to tribal gov’ts.
Cases of missing/ medically abused native women and children reopened.
The fight is not over by any means, but on Indigenous People’s Day, highlighting the positive.
— chica darks (@heythisisdrey) October 12, 2020
Many people expressed pride that our President seeks to help all missing and lost children.
“Thank you! That’s wonderful. We must also do more for all the children who are kidnapped/sold/missing. The amount of children who continue to disappear in this country is not okay. I’d love to see more emphasis on fixing this problem. Please ?????? Such a scary world we live in now that our poor children are being brought up in.”
“Thank you Mr. President for the emphasis you have placed on finding all missing children.”
— Rep. Deb Haaland (@RepDebHaaland) October 12, 2020
Some Native American’s expressed their thanks to the President:
“I am an Alaskan Native (Native Village of Afognak). Thank you, Mr. President, for all that you do for us.”
“As a descendent of the Ojibwa tribe, I applaud you, my POTUS.”
“Wow! I’m so grateful and appreciative as a Native American. Let’s also make sure our history is studied in every school and every immigrant wanting to move here understands our history too. Thank you ”
“The Native American people deserve to be treated with all the respect and consideration they deserve, congratulations President Trump.”
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