On Saturday, President Donald J. Trump signed into law S. 227, Savanna’s Act, which directs the Department of Justice to develop law enforcement protocols to address the issue of the tragedy of Missing and Murdered Native Americans.
Savanna’s Act, named in memory of North Dakota resident Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind who was brutally murdered in 2017, seeks to combat violence against the most vulnerable members of the Native American community. Specifically, the bill:
- Improves tribal access to certain federal crime information databases and mandates the Attorney General and Interior Secretary consult with tribes on how to further develop these databases and access to them;
- Requires the Justice, Interior, and Health and Human Services departments to solicit recommendations from tribes on enhancing the safety of Native American women and improving access to crime information databases and criminal justice information systems during the annual consultations mandated under the Violence Against Women Act;
- Requires the creation of standardized guidelines for responding to cases of missing and murdered Native Americans, in consultations with tribes, which will include guidance on inter-jurisdictional cooperation among tribes and federal, state, and local law enforcement; and
- Requires statistics on missing and murdered Native American women, and recommendations on how to improve data collection, to be included in an annual report to Congress.
Senator Kevin Cramer helped introduce this legislation in January of 2019 and was presiding when the Senate passed it in March of this year.
“Thanks to President Trump for signing Savanna’s Act into law and for his steadfast protection of the most vulnerable among us. Savanna’s life was lost far too early. I hope this legislation serves as a remembrance of her story and prevents other tragedies from occurring," Cramer said in a statement.
Senator John Hoeven, who also helped introduce the legislation and is a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, remarked on the signing as well.
“We appreciate the President signing Savanna’s Act into law. This legislation addresses a tragic issue in Indian Country and will help to establish better law enforcement practices,” said Hoeven. “Savanna’s Act is part of our efforts to strengthen public safety in tribal communities. In addition to Savanna’s Act, we’ve also worked to secure funding to establish a tribal law enforcement training center in North Dakota and yesterday (Friday) we marked the opening of this new facility at Camp Grafton.”