cloudyn.png
Thursday May 23rd, 2019 5:35AM

US bill calls for DOJ review of Indian Country probes

By The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. House members re-introduced legislation Tuesday that calls for the Justice Department to review how law enforcement agencies respond to cases of missing and slain Native Americans as the nationwide push to bring more attention to the issue gains momentum.

The legislation is named for 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who went missing while pregnant in 2017 before her body was found in a North Dakota river. Her baby, who Fargo police said had been cut from LaFontaine-Greywind's womb by a neighbor, survived.

Savanna's Act is among numerous measures that have been introduced at the state and federal level this year to try to address violence against Native American women, who have been victimized at staggering rates for decades.

More than half have encountered sexual and domestic violence at some point during their lives, according to the most recently available federal figures. And there has been growing concern within tribal communities that women have gone missing at a higher rate than federal databases indicate because tribal officers lack the resources and training to document and respond to the cases on reservations or because of a mistrust of law enforcement.

"It's almost like people don't know how to deal with this issue," said Rep. Deb Haaland, who is a Democrat from New Mexico and an enrolled tribal member of the Pueblo of Laguna. "This is why we're pressing to know everything."

Savanna's Act aims to address the gaps in data by proposing to expand tribes' access to some federal crime databases, establish protocols for handling cases of missing and slain Native Americans, and require annual reports on missing and murdered Native Americans that will give lawmakers a better handle on the potential scope of the problem.

Haaland along with Reps. Norma Torres, a California Democrat, and Dan Newhouse, a Washington Republican, are the bill's lead sponsors in the House while U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, re-introduced the legislation in the Senate earlier this year.

The bill was unanimously approved in the U.S. Senate last year but died in the House.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez swiftly endorsed the measure after it was re-introduced Tuesday afternoon, saying he hoped leaders could stem the deaths and disappearances of tribal members.

The Urban Indian Health Institute said it also was endorsing the measure despite concerns that it did not go far enough in also addressing urban cases.

The Seattle-based institute released an in-depth report last year that identified some 500 Native American women in 71 U.S. cities who had vanished or been homicide victims. The report's authors, however, expected their figures represented an undercount, in part, because Native American victims may have been identified as belonging to another race.

The report also noted that LaFontaine-Greywind herself had been living in the city of Fargo when she was killed, underscoring the need for lawmakers to include urban Native Americans in their policymaking.

"We have to be more inclusive of urban Indian people," said Abigail Echo-Hawk, the Urban Indian Health Institute's director. "This epidemic did not stop at the borders of the reservations."

A provision introduced by Haaland in the Violence Against Women Act proposes support for victim advocate services for urban Native Americans whose cases are handled in state, versus federal or tribal, courts.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Carolina starts McElhinney in Game 3 vs Bruins
Carolina Hurricanes start G Curtis McElhinney for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final against Boston Bruins
8:09PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Montana Gov. Bullock joins 2020 Democratic presidential race
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination
8:05PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Suit seeks to hold Vatican at fault for abuse by US priests
A lawsuit in federal court in Minnesota seeks to trace a direct line from clergy sex abuse victims, through Minnesota church officials, to the Vatican, with claims made by three brothers who were abused by a Catholic priest between roughly 2009 and 2012.
8:01PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
At odds on many fronts, US and Russia hope for better ties
Russia and the United States voiced hope Tuesday that badly strained relations could begin to improve
7:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
Border wall to go up in national monument, wildlife refuge
The federal government plans on replacing barriers through 100 miles of the southern border in California and Arizona, including through a national monument and a wildlife refuge, according to documents and environmental advocates
7:09PM ( 1 hour ago )
GOP scrambles to ease blow from Trump's trade war
Trump's allies on Capitol Hill are scrambling to soften the blow from his trade war with China amid mounting anxiety from farm-state lawmakers
7:06PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
NCAA to consider allowing athletes to profit from names
NCAA looking at use of athletes' names, images and likenesses
5:34PM ( 2 hours ago )
UK's May to make new push on her Brexit deal next month
The British prime minister's office says Theresa May will try again next month to secure Parliament's backing for a deal to leave the European Union
5:19PM ( 3 hours ago )
Lawmakers announce plan for more security after mosque fire
A Connecticut mayor says authorities have found evidence that an incendiary device or material was used to start a weekend fire at a mosque
5:16PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Carolina starts McElhinney in Game 3 vs Bruins
Carolina Hurricanes start G Curtis McElhinney for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final against Boston Bruins
8:09PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Montana Gov. Bullock joins 2020 Democratic presidential race
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination
8:05PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Suit seeks to hold Vatican at fault for abuse by US priests
A lawsuit in federal court in Minnesota seeks to trace a direct line from clergy sex abuse victims, through Minnesota church officials, to the Vatican, with claims made by three brothers who were abused by a Catholic priest between roughly 2009 and 2012.
8:01PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Texas officer shoots and kills woman after stun-gun struggle
Police say an officer shot and killed a woman at a Houston-area apartment complex after she hit him with his Taser during a struggle, shocking him
8:00PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Trump pushes 'America First energy policy' on Louisiana trip
President Donald Trump is showcasing his 'America First energy policy' during a trip to Louisiana
7:47PM ( 38 minutes ago )