Help for the Missing

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In 1979, Mona Lisa Two Eagle, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, was found dead and badly beaten in the middle of a field.

In 1993, Monica Wickre, who was raised on the Turtle Mountain reservation, disappeared. Two months later her body was found decomposing by a passer-by in a river.

In 2005, Lakota Rae Renville, a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe of North and South Dakota, met with someone online and went to meet up with him. She was then snatched up in a sex trafficking scheme and a year later was found dead wrapped up in a carpet.

In September of 2010, Stella Marie Trottier-Graves who was a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians went to a bar with family. She wasn’t seen again after that night until her dead body was found.

Now, with the recent murder of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, some senators are considering adding bills to protect women from things like this happening again.

North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp introduced a bill to the U.S. Senate floor on October 5. The bill was entitled the “Savanna Act,” which was named after the recently deceased Savanna Greywind.

“These are not isolated cases,” Heitkamp said, “This goes on every day in America. It’s time for Congress to recognize this epidemic.”

The bill has four goals:

  1. Improve tribal access to crime information databases with updated fields on info that’s relevant to them.
  2. Require the U.S. attorney general, Department of the Interior and Department of Health and Human Services to have conversations with tribes on how to improve the databases.
  3. Make protocols for responding to a missing or murdered Native American.
  4. Mandate a report that details murdered and missing native women yearly.

Hannah Youngdeer is a graduate student as well as the president of the Native American Student Association at North Dakota State. She believes that these laws will greatly benefit all native members in the country.

“There is minimal data regarding this epidemic,” Youngdeer said, “This act will assist in this much needed research.”

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