The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) welcomed the passage of Savannas Act (S.1942) by the Senate. The bill is now headed to the House for their approval. Savannas Act is named after Savanna LaFontaine Greywind, a Dakota woman eight-months pregnant who went missing and was found brutally murdered in August 2017.
The Senate has done its job. We now need the House of Representatives to step up and do theirs. We are so close, said Diane Randall, FCNLs Executive Secretary. As Quakers, we believe that tribal police and courts should have primary authority over all criminal activity on reservation lands.
Native women and girls face a murder rate 10 times the national average, and more than 4 in 5 Native women have experienced violence.
The bill advances improvements in two of the most problematic issues currently plaguing tribal criminal justice “ coordination among jurisdictions and agencies and access to databases, said Lacina Tangnaqudo Onco (Shinnecock/Kiowa), FCNLs Congressional Advocate on Native American Policy. Every time a Native woman goes missing, a crisis begins. These crises are not limited to remote, rural tribal reservations. They are affecting Native Americans living in major cities.
Savannas Act would expand tribal access to federal crime databases and calls for improved response and coordination from law enforcement agencies responding to missing and murdered Native Americans. It also would require annual reports on the number of missing and murdered Native American women amid concerns that inadequate data collection has stifled efforts to measure the full scope of the problem.
To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.
Timothy J McHugh
Friends Committee on National Legislation