Congressman Greg Gianforte and a bipartisan group of legislators introduced Savanna’s Act, a bill meant to address the missing and murdered Indigenous women’s crisis, this week in the United States House.
Native American women face a murder rate 10 times higher than the national average, according to Gianforte, and 84 percent experience some form of violence in their lifetime.
Gianforte’s office stated there is no reliable way of knowing how many Native women go missing each year and the databases that hold statistics about the crisis are outdated. There is also a lack of coordination among law enforcement agencies, according to a press release.
“We face an epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women in Montana and across our country. They are our sisters and daughters, and they deserve justice,” Gianforte said. “Savanna’s Act will help upgrade critical data and enhance communication among law enforcement to better address this heartbreaking crisis. With these improved tools, we can start finding answers for their families and prevent future tragedies.”
The bill will require federal agencies to update the current federal database to include data relating to a missing person’s tribal affiliation. It will also create standardized protocols to serve as guidelines for law enforcement agencies for this epidemic.
The bill is named in honor of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year-old pregnant member of the Spirit Lake Tribe who was murdered in August 2017.
Both of Montana’s U.S. senators, Steve Daines and Jon Tester, support a Senate companion bill: S227.
Montana’s congressional delegation supported the bill in previous sessions where it failed to become law.