Torres, Newhouse, Haaland Reintroduce Bipartisan Savanna’s Act

The  bill  honors  Savanna  LaFontaine-Greywind,  a  22-year-old pregnant  member  of  the  Spirit  Lake Tribe who was tragically murdered in 2017

Savanna’s  Act addresses the disturbing increase in murdered and missing Native American women

WASHINGTON, DC –  U.S. Representatives Norma J. Torres (D-CA), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and Deb Haaland (D-NM) reintroduced Savanna’s Act, a bill named in honor of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year old pregnant member of the Spirit Lake Tribe who was tragically murdered in August 2017. Native American women face a murder rate ten times higher than the national average, with eighty-four percent experiencing some form of violence in their lifetime. There is still no reliable way of knowing how many Native women go missing each year because the databases that hold statistics of these cases are outdated, and because of a lack of coordination between law enforcement agencies. Savanna’s Act addresses the disturbing increase in murdered and missing Native American women by creating new guidelines for responding to such cases, and by incentivizing their implementation.

“There’s a crisis of missing and murdered Native women in this country. Savanna’s Act, if passed into law, would help resolve that crisis,” said Congresswoman Torres. “I’m grateful to my House and Senate colleagues for their hard work and support on this updated bill, and I look forward to working towards its swift passage.”

“Missing and murdered Native American women and their families deserve justice, and Congress must act,” said Congressman Newhouse. “I am proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce this improved version of Savanna’s Act to finally empower law enforcement agencies and tribes to effectively address this devastating issue that impacts communities in Central Washington and across the country.”

“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their own community, but Native American and Alaskan Native women continue to face murder rates that are ten times higher than the national average. It’s heartbreaking cases like Savanna Greywind, Ashlynne Mike, Judith Apache, and countless Native women and their families that are left behind that drive us to work for solutions to the silent crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women. This long-standing epidemic will take time, resources, and dedication to resolve it—and we will find solutions. In this updated version of Savanna’s Act, I worked hard to prioritize the safety of Native women, including urban areas, to protect indigenous women throughout the country,” said Congresswoman Haaland, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.

The new bill builds on previous versions of Savanna’s Act by expanding the requirement for the creation of law enforcement guidelines to all U.S. Attorneys, not just those with Indian Country jurisdiction, and requires such guidelines to be regionally appropriate. It also requires the Attorney General to publicly list the law enforcement agencies that comply with the provisions of the legislation. Finally, it includes a new implementation and incentive section that provides grant authority to law enforcement organizations to implement the provisions of the legislation, and increases the amount of those grants for those that comply.

Torres, Newhouse, and Haaland were joined in introducing the bill by original co-sponsors Representatives Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Sharice Davids (D-KS), Greg Gianforte (R-MT), Tom Cole (R-OK), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Don Young (R-AK), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Karen Bass (D-CA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Paul Cook (R-CA), and Terri A. Sewell (D-AL).

Savanna’s Act was previously introduced in the 115th Congress by Torres and former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). The Senate passed the bill unanimously, but it did not receive consideration in the House. In January, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) reintroduced the bill in the Senate.

Savanna’s Act is supported by the National Congress of American Indians, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Seattle Indian Health Board, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Washington, Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center, Western Native Voice, Friends Committee on National Legislation, All Pueblo Council of Governors (representing 20 Pueblos), Intertribal Association of Arizona (representing 21 Tribal Nations), United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund (representing 27 Tribal Nations), Muckleshoot Tribe of Washington, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and Navajo Nation.

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