Tuesday — June 01, 2021
by: Samantha Thornsberry
Take a look at the legislation that was passed in 2018, known as Savanna’s Act. The law is named after Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was murdered in 2017. Savanna was a vibrant 22-year-old expectant mother, and member of the Spirit Lake Tribe from North Dakota. She was 8-months pregnant and murdered by her neighbors. It was eight days until her body was discovered in the Red River by kayakers; though, her newborn baby girl was discovered in the neighbor’s apartment. Sadly, Savanna’s tragic end is not unfamiliar to most Natives and is sadly shared throughout the United States and Canada, as Native women, girls, and relatives go missing, get murdered, or are victimized by crime, at a rate higher than other ethnic groups. Unfortunately, the words “murdered” and “missing” are words that are all too familiar in Indian Country.
According to the Department of Justice, “Indian women are murdered at more than 10 times the national average on some reservations,” and are “more than 2.5 times as likely to experience violent crimes, and at least 2 times more likely to experience rape or sexual assault crimes—compared to all other races.” Yet, the investigation into cases of missing and murdered Native women and girls yields nothing. No justice. No closure. Most often than not, our loved ones’ remains are never found and are never returned to the families for burial and ceremony.
The lack of interagency cooperation, the lack of training, equipment, funding, and the list goes on…, has resulted in an epidemic of murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls, and relatives. Though we mourn the loss of Savanna LaFountain-Greywind, we honor her name and those who were “shook” and decided it was time to act. While this legislation does nothing to save Savanna, perhaps her final gift to the rest of us, her Native sisters, will be “actions” in the form of a law that will keep others from going missing or getting murdered or will at least serve as a stepping stone to acting, reacting, and awareness. S.1942 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): Savanna's Act | Congress.gov | Library of Congress