Washington, D.C. –Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks, as prepared, during the markup of H.R. 2733, the Savanna's Act:
"H.R. 2733, 'Savanna’s Act,' responds to the epidemic of missing and murdered Native Americans. This crisis is appalling and threatens millions of innocent people living both on tribal lands and beyond. The available data indicates that violence against Native Americans is particularly high. In some tribal communities, Native American women experience murder rates that are more than ten times the national average. This is unacceptable.
"Savanna’s Act is named in honor of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a member of the Spirit Lake Tribe, who vanished from her apartment in Fargo, North Dakota while eight months pregnant. Eight days after she disappeared, her body was found wrapped in plastic in the Red River.
"This legislation empowers Tribal governments with the resources and information necessary to respond to cases of missing or murdered Native Americans, like Savanna’s, and to increase the collection of data in such cases. It also increases coordination and communication among the Federal, State, and Tribal officials responsible for investigating these cases in a variety of ways.
"This legislation provides best practices in conducting searches for missing persons on and off Native American land; standards on the collection, reporting, and analysis of data and information on missing persons and unidentified human remains, and culturally appropriate identification and handling of human remains identified as Native American.
"HR 2733 also provides guidance on which law enforcement agency is responsible for inputting information into databases, guidance on improving agency response rates and follow-up to cases of missing and murdered Native Americans; and guidance on ensuring access to culturally appropriate victim services.
"Lastly, and most importantly, H.R. 2733 adds two new purpose areas to two existing grant programs administered by the Justice Department, specifically allowing grantees to use funds to implement policies, protocols, and training for law enforcement regarding cases of missing or murdered Native Americans, and to compile and report data to the Attorney General.
"In short, this important legislation will help address the alarming cases of missing and murdered Native Americans in a robust and effective way. I appreciate the leadership of Representative Norma Torres in introducing Savanna’s Act, and I urge my colleagues to support it."