And while the rate of this crime is high for all populations, the rates of murder, rape, and violent crime in the Native community are all higher than the national averages. A majority of these victims have experienced violence at the hands of at least one non-Native in their lifetime.
And that is exactly what happened to a woman in our state who was eight months pregnant when she was abducted from her home, cut with a utility knife or some sort of blade in a tub and was later found in the Red River.
According to the Indigenous Rights Center, violence against Native women is ten times higher than the national average despite Natives making up just six percent of North Dakota’s population.
The woman mentioned above was a member of the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe, a mother, daughter, and a great friend to many.
This is the story of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind.
For decades, Native American and Alaska Native communities have struggled with high rates of assault, abduction, and murder.
Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind became a victim at the age of 22.
“Brooke Crews came down to Savanna’s parent’s apartment and offered her $20 and said she was working on a sewing project,” says Ruth Buffalo, a strong activist in the Native community.
Crews lived upstairs in the same apartment complex as Greywind.
That is where LaFontaine-Greywind was shoved to the floor, knocked unconscious by Crews and taken against her will by Crews’ boyfriend, William Hoehn. Greywind was later brought upstairs to their apartment to attempt an at-home C-section.
“After the property management owners of the building cleaned out the apartment and threw everything in the garbage, people are going through the garbage including reporters and we were told there were a lot of books on childbirth and C-sections, so that tells us that this lady really knew what she was doing,” said Buffalo.
In 2018, Crews was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Her boyfriend Hoehn got 20 years with the possibility of parole. Savanna Greywind’s story made the Native community stand up, saying enough is enough, one of them being Ruth Buffalo.
Although Savanna’s Act was signed into law in 2020, Buffalo says there hasn’t been enough done to make sure it’s properly executed throughout all 50 states, and it’s the same with Savanna’s Law.
“There is so much work that needs to be done and we’ve been hearing from a lot of community members and leaders across the nation who have voiced their concern regarding Savanna’s Act,” said Buffalo.
One of the purposes of the act is to increase the collection of data related to missing or murdered Indian men, women, and children, regardless of where they reside.
Ruth Buffalo says things like this are happening and aren’t being recorded or being looked at. “I do believe that there’s an extreme amount of under reporting in general due to a lot of different factors and so, we have a lot of work to do to make sure that everyone is able to live in a safe and healthy environment and public safety is so important, and funding public safety on tribal lands is also very important, you know, many of us still have family members that still reside within tribal lands,” said Buffalo.
Buffalo says we’re basically experiencing a “silent crisis” with thousands of missing and murdered indigenous people, and she and her other partners are going to continuously fight for the proper help within their tribal lands.
We have reached out to the BIA, but we’re still waiting on a response.