Deathscapes

Calling States to Account 14g - Legislative Responses (US)

Deathscapes

United States: Legislative Responses

An Indigenous woman looks directly at the camera. On her face is a red handprint that covers her mouth. The accompanying text reads 'Invisible no more. 5,712 Native women were reported murdered or missing in 2016. Now we're lost count. MMIW-GIC.COM #Somebodysdaughter'

[imagecaption] Invisible No More billboard, I-40 West, Cheyenne and Arapaho Nation. This national billboard campaign was initiated by the tribal alliance of the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council (RMTLC), the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association (GPTCA), and the Global Indigenous Council (GIC). Sister tribes of the Oklahoma Indian Nations, the Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho and Ponca Tribe of Nebraska are part of the tribal organizations. Photos: Alter-Native Media. [/imagecaption]

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Recent initiatives in response to sustained pressure from Native American campaigners include:

  • ‘Savanna’s Act’, named in memory of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22 year old pregnant woman from the Spirit Lake Nation who was abducted and brutally murdered by her neighbour, the Act is intended to improve and increase data collection between tribal communities and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. It is described as an ‘essential first step’ in combating the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women.
  • The ‘Not Invisible Act 2019′, the first bill in U.S history introduced by four Native Americans, aims to increase intergovernmental coordination to identify and combat violent crime and human trafficking faced by tribal communities and law enforcement.
  • ‘Hanna’s Act’ (House Bill 21) is named in memory of 21 year old Hanna Harris, who was raped and murdered on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in 2013. Introduced in Montana, it is intended to authorise the Department of Justice to assist with missing persons investigations and employ a missing persons specialist who would also maintain the states’ missing persons database to ensure it is accurate and complete.
  • The ‘Studying the Missing and Murdered Indian Crisis Act‘ was introduced to Congress in April 2019, but has not yet been passed. This act would direct the Comptroller General of the United States to submit a report on the response of law enforcement agencies to reports of missing or murdered Indigenous people.
  • The state of Washington has taken measures towards improving law enforcement with regard to reports of missing and murdered Native American women.
  • The state of Arizona has signed into law a Bill (HB2570) to create a task force that will investigate and gather data about missing and murdered Indigenous women.
  • In November 2019,  the Department of Justice announced a new national strategy by the FBI to address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP), ‘especially women’. The strategy includes three parts: the establishment of MMIP coordinators in 11 states, the establishment of specialized FBI Rapid Deployment Teams, and comprehensive data analysis; it will involve ‘ a coordinated effort by more than 50 U.S. Attorneys on NAIS, the FBI, the Office of Tribal Justice, with support from the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).’


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