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Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada). Photo: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
Cortez Masto, Murkowski Hail Trump Signing of Bills to Curb Epidemic of Missing, Murdered and Trafficked Native Women
Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act addressing the epidemic of missing Indigenous women become law of the land
Monday, October 12, 2020

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — champions in the Senate of the Not Invisible Act [S.982] and Savanna’s Act [S.227], respectively — released the following statements on October 11, 2020, after both bills were signed into law by the president:

“For too long, the epidemic of missing, murdered and trafficked Native women and girls has gone unaddressed. Former Senator Heidi Heitkamp bravely took up this effort in the last Congress, and I’m proud to have worked to get that legislation passed and signed by the President today,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “With the Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s Act, we reach a turning point in the effort to seek justice for the families of those missing and murdered, and in curbing the epidemic of violence against Native women. Both laws require federal agencies to improve coordination with local partners and ensure they have the federal backing to address a crisis that has been under-resourced for far too long. Today’s signing puts us on a path towards greater justice for thousands of Native women and girls that have been missing, trafficked, or taken far too soon and puts into place the tools needed to give our Native sisters, mothers and daughters greater security. No longer will these women be invisible, and may the memory of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind live on in the law that bears her name. I thank my colleague Senator Murkowski for leading this bill with me and the President for signing this bipartisan legislation.”

“Today we’ve reached a huge milestone in our efforts to provide justice for victims, healing for their families, and protection for women, children, and families across the nation. I’m proud that we have elevated this issue from raising awareness, to action—having created enduring policy to make real, lasting change. And the way to make that necessary change is through partnerships, coordination, and pooling resources—by working to solve this problem, together. Today we are reminding these families, they matter and their loved ones who are lost matter,” said Senator Murkowski. “Advancing these bills has been a top priority of mine and I applaud my Senate colleagues and the administration for their support in recognizing the importance of doing everything in our power to turn the tide of women and girls falling victim to this epidemic.”

BACKGROUND:
In March 11, 2020, the Senate passed the Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s Act unanimously, with the House of Representatives doing the same in September.

The Not Invisible Act was first introduced by Senator Cortez Masto and co-led with Senator Murkowski in April 2019. Specifically, the Not Invisible Act:

  • Creates a point person in the Bureau of Indian Affairs to improve coordination of violent crime prevention across federal agencies.
  • Establishes a commission law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, and survivors to make recommendations to the Department of Interior and Department of Justice on combatting the epidemic of missing persons, murder, and trafficking of Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
Savanna’s Act was reintroduced in the 116th Congress by Senator Murkowski and co-led with Senator Cortez Masto in January 2019. Specifically, Savanna’s Act:

  • Requires law enforcement training on how to record the tribal enrollment information of victims in federal databases and mandates that the Attorney General consult with tribes on how to improve relevance and access to federal databases.
  • Requires the creation of standardized, regionally-appropriate guidelines for responding to cases of missing or murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, in consultation with tribes, which will include guidance on inter-jurisdictional cooperation among tribes and federal, state, and local law enforcement.
  • Requires data on missing or murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, and recommendations on how to improve data collection, to be included in an annual report to Congress.