‘Savanna’s Law’ Proposed as a Way to Find Missing Women and Children in Indian Country

U.S. senators from New Mexico, North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota are sponsoring the ‘Savannah’s Law’ bill requiring the federal government to take a more active role in addressing and combating the needlessly high rates of violence experienced by Native America women.

The bill is named after 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a member of the Spirit Lake Tribe of North Dakota. On August 19, 2017, she was reported missing by her family. Five days later Savanna’s daughter was found in a neighbor’s apartment. A week later, police found Savanna’s body.

Savanna’s family feels things may have ended differently if police would have taken the missing person report more seriously and initiated a more thorough search.

‘Savanna’s Law’ includes the following actions:

  • Improving tribal access to certain federal criminal history record information databases.
  • Creating standardized protocols for responding to cases of missing and murdered Native Americans.
  • Producing an annual report to Congress with data on missing and murdered Native women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined homicide is the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women between 10 and 24 years of age, and the fifth leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native women between 25 and 34 years of age.

The Government Accountability Office report in 2010 found U.S. Attorneys declined to prosecute nearly 52 percent of violent crimes that occur in Indian country.