A bill aimed at addressing the “tragic issue” of missing and murdered Native Americans passed the U.S. House Monday and is headed to President Donald Trump. Savanna’s Act, named for Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind of Fargo, N.D., a pregnant 22-year-old Spirit Lake tribal member who was killed in 2017, would establish national law enforcement guidelines between the federal government and American Indian tribes, reports USA Today. The bill unanimously passed the U.S. Senate in March.
The bill requires federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement agencies to update and create protocols regarding missing or murdered Native Americans. The U.S. Department of Justice must provide training to law enforcement agencies on data entry, educate the public on the database, help tribes and Indigenous communities enter information in the database, develop guidelines for response to missing or murdered Indigenous people, provide assistance to tribes and law enforcement agencies, and report data on missing or murdered Native Americans. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, co-sponsored the bill. He said it “addresses a tragic issue in Indian Country and helps establish better law enforcement practices to track, solve and prevent these crimes against Native Americans” Murder is the third-leading cause of death for American Indian/Alaska Native women, says the Urban Indian Health Institute. In 2016, there were 5,712 cases reported of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Only 116 were logged in the DOJ database.