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US House approves bill to address missing and murdered Indigenous people
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US House approves bill to address missing and murdered Indigenous people

The US House of Representatives unanimously passed the Savanna Act Monday, a bill designed to “direct the Attorney General to review, revise, and develop law enforcement and justice protocols appropriate to address missing and murdered Indians.”

The bill requires that federal, state, local and tribal police create protocols to address missing and murdered Indigenous people. These protocols include data reporting on missing and murdered Indigenous people, directing US Attorneys to create guidelines for finding missing Indigenous people, training local law enforcement on data entry, and educating Indigenous communities on how to enter information into the database.

A report published in 2018 by the Urban Indian Health Institute found that out of 5,712 missing Indigenous women in 2016, only 116 were logged into the Department of Justice database. The report also concluded that murder was the third-leading cause of death for Indigenous women.

Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), a co-sponsor of the bill, praised its passage in a statement he released:

Savanna’s Act addresses a tragic issue in Indian Country and helps establish better law enforcement practices to track, solve and prevent these crimes against Native Americans. We appreciate our House colleagues for passing the bill today and sending it on to the president to become law. At the same time, we continue working to advance more legislation like this to strengthen public safety in tribal communities and ensure victims of crime receive support and justice.

The bill will proceed to the Senate for consideration.