WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate and a key U.S. House of Representatives committee on Wednesday, March 11, unanimously passed a bill named for a Fargo murder victim that aims to address the crisis of missing and murdered Native Americans.
The bill, called Savanna's Act, is named after Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year-old member of the Spirit Lake Tribe in northern North Dakota whose baby was cut from her womb by a Fargo woman in 2017. Savanna was killed in the incident; her baby survived.
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said the legislation requires more reporting on missing and murdered Native Americans and directs the Department of Justice and Department of Interior to consult with tribes in developing national law enforcement guidelines. The bill also calls for more information sharing between agencies and training for law officers.
In the House, Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., said the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday unanimously passed the bill, which will next move to the House floor for passage.
Armstrong said Congress must do more to address violence against Native Americans.
"On some reservations, Native American women are murdered at a rate of more than 10 times the national average," he said.
Former U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., originally led the charge to seek passage of the bill in 2018, but after the Senate passed the legislation it was held up in the House.
The man who defeated Heitkamp in the election that year, U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said in a statement Wednesday that he also voted for the bill and urged quick House approval of the legislation.