Congress passes a landmark bill to help stop the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women
via Lorie Shaull / Flickr

The epidemic of violence against Indigenous women in America is one of the country's most disturbing trends. A major reason it persists is because it's rarely discussed outside of the native community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, murder is the third-leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women under age 19.

Women who live on some reservations face rates of violence that are as much as ten times higher than the national average.


The problem stems from a lack of community resources, prejudice, poverty, and poor communication between Native communities and law enforcement.

Red dress display to honor missing and murdered Indigenous women.via Kerron L / Flickr

Many women disappear from remote reservations without a single law enforcement officer. "The resources are spread so thin, it allows people to fall through the cracks," Billy J. Stratton, an expert in Native American studies at the University of Denver, told CNN.

But the problem goes much deeper than law enforcement.

"When you're talking about a group of people who is among the lowest socioeconomic class in the US, they're more susceptible to violence than others," Stratton said.

"Poverty is the main driver; dispossession, lack of empowerment, isolation, and those other social problems I think flow from that," he added.

Violence against Native people also gets very little attention from the mainstream media.

"I live on a reservation, it's word of mouth. We can report [someone missing or dead] to the authorities," Tillie Aldrich, an Omaha Tribe of Nebraska member, told Teen Vogue.

"If we have a non-Native [person] missing in a city 25 miles north of us, it's all over the news, the newspapers, posters going up," she continued. "If we have someone missing, one of our Native missing, they try to keep it quiet."

The response to cases of violence against native American women is so poor that in 2016 there were 5,712 cases reported of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, but only 116 cases were logged by the Department of Justice database.

However, a new bill passed by Congress hopes to reverse this trend in violence and law enforcement inaction.

On Monday, the House of Representatives passed Savanna's Act, which will go to the desk of President Trump for final approval.

The bill is named after Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a member of the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe from Fargo, North Dakota. In 2017, at the age of 22, while eight months pregnant her unborn child was cut out of her womb and she was murdered. The baby survived.

The bill requires federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies to update policies and protocols to address missing or murdered Native Americans.

It also requires the U.S. Department of Justice to develop new guidelines for response to missing or murdered Native people and provide database training to law enforcement agencies at all levels.

"Savanna's Act addresses a tragic issue in Indian Country and helps establish better law enforcement practices to track, solve and prevent these crimes against Native Americans," Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said in a statement.

"We appreciate our House colleagues for passing the bill today and sending it on to the president to become law," the statement continues. "At the same time, we continue working to advance more legislation like this to strengthen public safety in tribal communities and ensure victims of crime receive support and justice."

"Passage of Savanna's Act brings us one step closer to ending this epidemic by upgrading critical data and improving communication among law enforcement," Republican Representative from Montana Greg Gianforte said in a statement.

The bill is a positive first step toward combating the issue of missing and murdered Indiginous women, but much more will have to be done before the problem is solved.

"Stopping the #MMIW [Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women] crisis will take years and maybe decades," Sarah Deer, Muscogee, a professor at the University of Kansas, told Teen Vogue.

"It must be a multi-faceted movement led by family members of missing Indigenous women," she added. "Those families are the experts on this crisis and should be the leaders of the movement."

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.