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Savanna's Act introduced in U.S. House

WASHINGTON — Two Democrats have introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives a companion bill to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's "Savanna's Act."

Heitkamp, D-N.D., introduced "Savanna's Act" to the Senate in October. It received a hearing in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs later that month, but has not progressed beyond that. California Rep. Norma Torres and Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole introduced Savanna Act's into the House on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

Heitkamp introduced the bill in response to what she has called an "epidemic" of missing and murdered native women. The bill is named for Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, the 22-year-old Fargo woman who was killed in August. She was a member of the Spirit Lake Nation.

The bill would create standard protocols for responding to cases of missing and murdered American Indians, improve the collection and dissemination of statistics about missing and murdered natives, and enhance tribal access to federal crime databases.

Heitkamp on Wednesday also launched a social media campaign to raise awareness about the issue of missing and murdered native women. She asked native women, their families, advocates and others to post photos of themselves on Facebook and Twitter holding a sheet of paper saying #NotInvisible.