Bipartisan Legislation Addressing Crisis of Missing, Murdered, and Trafficked Indigenous Women Signed into Law
October 11, 2020
Savanna’s Act improves coordination among all levels of law enforcement, increases data collection and information sharing, and empowers tribal governments with access to the necessary law enforcement databases in cases involving missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, wherever they occur.
Not Invisible Act improves engagement among law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, and service providers. The bill also designates an official to coordinate efforts across agencies and establishes a commission of tribal and federal stakeholders to make recommendations to the Department of Interior and Department of Justice on combating the epidemic of disappearances, homicide, violent crime and trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
“[Yesterday] we’ve reached a huge milestone in our efforts to provide justice for victims, healing for their families, and protection for women, children, and families across the nation. I’m proud that we have elevated this issue from raising awareness, to action—having created enduring policy to make real, lasting change. And the way to make that necessary change is through partnerships, coordination, and pooling resources—by working to solve this problem, together. Today we are reminding these families, they matter and their loved ones who are lost matter,” said Senator Murkowski.
Murkowski said, “Advancing these bills has been a top priority of mine and I applaud my Senate colleagues and the administration for their support in recognizing the importance of doing everything in our power to turn the tide of women and girls falling victim to this epidemic.”
“For too long, the epidemic of missing, murdered and trafficked Native women and girls has gone unaddressed. Former Senator Heidi Heitkamp bravely took up this effort in the last Congress, and I’m proud to have worked to get that legislation passed and signed by the President today. With the Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s Act, we reach a turning point in the effort to seek justice for the families of those missing and murdered, and in curbing the epidemic of violence against Native women," said Senator Cortez Masto.
Masto said, "Both laws require federal agencies to improve coordination with local partners and ensure they have the federal backing to address a crisis that has been under-resourced for far too long. [Saturday's] signing puts us on a path towards greater justice for thousands of Native women and girls that have been missing, trafficked, or taken far too soon and puts into place the tools needed to give our Native sisters, mothers and daughters greater security. No longer will these women be invisible, and may the memory of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind live on in the law that bears her name. I thank my colleague Senator Murkowski for leading this bill with me and the President for signing this bipartisan legislation,” said Senator Cortez Masto.
Vivian Korthuis, AVCP Chief Executive Officer said, “The Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) thanks Senator Murkowski and Senator Masto, as well as Senator Sullivan, Congressman Young, and their colleagues, for working diligently to pass the Savanna’s Act and Not Invisible Act. In rural Alaska, the statistics of missing and murdered Alaska Native peoples are disproportionately high and rising. Our tribal delegates have identified public safety as our region’s number one priority. The public safety crisis in rural Alaska includes lack of access to public safety personnel and facilities, and therefore an inability to protect our most vulnerable tribal members; as well as the epidemic of missing and murdered Alaska Native peoples. To end this catastrophe, all levels of government must work together to find solutions centered around: awareness, education, prevention, and access to basic law enforcement. These bills are one significant step toward greater collaboration within government agencies, and an increased exchange of vital information – both of which will increase law enforcement and better protect our native men, women, and children. This brings us closer to the goal: basic public safety resources in our Native communities. We must continue standing up for what we know is right until all tribal communities have the resources needed to protect our families. Quyana.”
Richard Peterson, President of Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska said, “Tlingit & Haida extends its sincere appreciation to Senators Lisa Murkowski and Cortez Masto for moving forward two very important laws – Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act. This legislation is a step in the right direction to protecting our women and children. We know that through increased collaboration amongst our government and other agencies, we can improve the safety of our citizens. Indigenous women and children face disproportionate rates of domestic and sexual violence, and are often victims of human trafficking. The enactment of both laws elevates awareness of longstanding issues for Indigenous communities – Tlingit & Haida stands ready to work with others toward creating a stronger collaborative approach on these important issues.”
Julie Kitka, Alaska Federation of Natives Presiden said, “The Alaska Federation of Natives commends U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Catherine Cortez Masto for their bipartisan leadership in the passage of Savanna’s Act and Not Invisible Act, legislation that addresses the epidmenic-level crisis of missing, murdered, and trafficked Alaska Native and American Indian women. This is a huge victory for Native families seeking justice.”
Victor Joseph, Tanana Chiefs Conference Chief/Chairman also commented saying, “These laws commemorate decades of advocacy to address the victimization of Native women in our country. Improving data collection and collaboration is a significant step forward to ensure victims receive justice. I know personally several Alaskan tribes that are seeking justice for their murdered members and this provides new hope as our communities grapple with the impacts of violence.”
Edited By Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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