Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today called on the Biden administration to do more to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report finding that the government has not done enough to respond to the crisis. Senator Cortez Masto has led efforts in the Senate to protect Indigenous women and girls, and she asked that the GAO put together this report to investigate the federal response to violence facing Native women across the country.
This new GAO report concluded that both DOJ and DOI have missed a number of deadlines for implementing Cortez Masto’s bipartisan legislation on the subject, the Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s Act, and it recommended that the departments develop an action plan to ensure they’re doing all they can to combat the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
“We’ve given the federal government some powerful tools to finally develop a strategy to stop the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women,” said Cortez Masto. “But the government has to implement our legislation in a timely manner, as this report indicates. There’s a lot more work to do, and Native women and girls can’t wait. I’ll keep pushing to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect our Native communities in Nevada and across the country.”
Cortez Masto has led bipartisan efforts in the Senate with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to protect Native communities and to combat the dangerous epidemic of missing, murdered, and trafficked Indigenous women and girls. Working together, the Senators introduced the Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s Act, which passed the Senate on unanimous, bipartisan votes and were signed into law in October 2020. The Not Invisible Act creates a point person in the Bureau of Indian Affairs to improve coordination of violent crime prevention across federal agencies and establishes the commission that DOI and DOJ continue to work to assemble, comprised of law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, and survivors, who will ensure that the Departments work together to protect Native women and to address the epidemic of missing persons, murder, and trafficking of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Savanna’s Act, named in honor of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, requires federal law enforcement to create standard guidelines on responding to these crimes and increase data collection on them.