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"Savannah's Bill" gets first Senate hearing

U-S Senator Heidi Heitkamp was among those speaking before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in support of three bills to enhance all levels of Law Enforcement on Indian reservations. Senator Heitkamp says incidents involving Native American Women have reached crisis proportions. Heitkamp spoke to the committee about a bill she introduced last month -- Senate Bill 1942…

“The bill was named after Savannah Greywind – a 22-year old member of the Spirit Lake Tribe – who in August was abducted and murdered in North Dakota while 8-months pregnant. While Savannah’s tragic death was heard around the world, thousands of indigenous women are murdered or disappear every year with many of those cases being ignored or forgotten.”

The bill directs the U-S Attorney General to review, revise and develop law enforcement and justice protocols appropriate to address missing and murdered Indians. Heitkamp says when it comes to crimes against native women, the numbers are staggering…

“…Nearly everybody in Indian Country in my state – and I think really across Indian Country – knows someone who has gone missing or in fact knows someone who’s been murdered. In fact, in the last year in a tribal population of a little over 5,000 residents in Indian Country there were five homicides involving Indian women.”

Heitkamp says the bill has gained bipartisan support in the Senate and is backed by tribal leaders in North Dakota.

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