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Missing And Murdered Indigenous People Bill Heads To President’s Desk

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Monday designed to combat high rates of missing and murdered Indigenous people. It now heads to President Trump’s desk. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The bill known as Savanna’s Act would expand tribal access to federal crime information databases, among other measures. Advocates for missing and murdered Indigenous people say the lack of data sharing among federal, state, county, municipal and tribal law enforcement is one of the biggest hurdles to solving many of the crimes.

The legislation was named for Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a member of the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe who was abducted and murdered while pregnant in Fargo, N.D., in 2017.

Arizona Democrats Tom O’Halleran, Ruben Gallego and Greg Stanton are among 60 cosponsors of the bill. The U.S. Senate passed it earlier this year.

According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, only about 2% of missing and murdered Indigenous cases were logged with the U.S. Justice Department in 2016. Native American women on some tribal lands are murdered at a rate 10 times the national average.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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