On Monday, Sept. 21, days before Indigenous People’s Day and Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the House passed the Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s Act, sending the two bills addressing the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit people (MMIWG2S) crisis to the White House for Trump to sign into law.
Across the United States, over 5,700 Indigenous women were reported missing in 2016 alone, with only 116 of those cases logged into the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) missing persons database. This statistic is just the tip of the iceberg of the MMIWG2S crisis and most data collection is conducted only by Indigenous communities and organizations.
Introduced by Reps. Deb Haaland, Pueblo of Laguna (D-NM-1), and Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin (D-KS-3), and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), the Not Invisible Act would establish an advisory committee composed of lawmakers, law enforcement, tribal leaders, and survivors to monitor the MMIWG2S epidemic and make recommendations to the DOJ and Department of the Interior.
Additionally, the committee would create best practices for law enforcement agencies investigating MMIWG2S cases. This community-based and social service-based approach will hopefully lead to better protections for Indigenous community members across the country.
Named after the late Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a Spirit Lake tribe member who was murdered in Fargo, North Dakota, Savanna’s Act would ensure documentation of statistics around murder and disappeared rates, provide resources to tribal governments to better investigate MMIWG2S cases, and support investigation coordination between tribal, state, and federal government law enforcement agencies.