Tester’s Savanna’s Act and Not Invisible Act Clear the U.S. House of Representatives
Senator: “This is big news for Montana Tribes, MMIW advocates, and victims of violence, and I’m proud to have helped shepherd these bills through Congress”
Following years of constant pressure since originally introducing the Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today celebrated the U.S. House passage of two of his bipartisan pieces of legislation that work to combat the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) by bolstering data collection and information sharing between Tribes and law enforcement agencies and strengthening violent crime prevention efforts in Indian Country.
“The passage of my bipartisan Savanna’s Act and Not Invisible Act through the House puts us one step closer to securing better tools for combating the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons in Indian Country,” said Tester. “This is big news for Montana Tribes, MMIW advocates, and victims of violence who have worked tirelessly to get these pieces of legislation where they are today, and I’m proud to have helped shepherd these bills through Congress. I urge the President to sign these bills immediately so that Native American communities can use these resources as soon as humanly possible.”
Savanna’s Act is named in honor of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was murdered in North Dakota in August.
Indigenous women and girls in Montana face murder rates that are ten times higher than the national average, and according to the National Institute of Justice, more than 80 percent of Native American women have experienced violence, and half have experienced it within the last year.
Savanna’s Act would improve information sharing between Tribal and federal law enforcement agencies and increase data collection on cases involving missing or murdered Indigenous people. It requires:
- Law enforcement training on how to record victim tribal enrollment information in federal databases;
- The creation of standardized, regionally-appropriate guidelines for inter-jurisdictional cooperation on cases; and
- The Attorney General to include data on missing and murdered Indigenous people in an annual report to Congress.
The Not Invisible Act:
- Requires the Department of Interior (DOI) to designate a coordinator within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services (OJS) to coordinate violent crime prevention efforts across federal agencies who must submit an annual report summarizing coordination activities and recommendations for improving federal coordination efforts; and
- Directs DOI and the Department of Justice to establish a commission composed of relevant federal agencies, Tribal leaders, Tribal law enforcement, mental health providers, survivors, and state and local law enforcement to develop recommendations on improving the federal response to MMIW, human trafficking, and violent crime in Indian Country.
As a member and former chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tester has led the charge in the fight against the MMIW crisis, pushing relentlessly to get both the Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act signed into law. He originally introduced the Savanna’s Act in 2017, and the Not Invisible Act in 2019.