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Fargo forms task force on missing and murdered native women

A memorial to Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind is seen Aug. 28, 2017, in front of her home at 2825 9th St. N., Fargo. File photo

FARGO—The Fargo Native American Commission has formed a task force to address the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women.

Commissioners began discussing the idea in September following the murder of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind. The 22-year-old Fargo woman, a member of the Spirit Lake nation, disappeared in August while eight months pregnant. Her body was found eight days later in the Red River.

"What happened in Fargo-Moorhead rocked everybody to the core," said Ruth Buffalo, a member of the Native American Commission. "We want to find ways to continue supporting the entire Fargo community in making sure our communities are safe for all people."

Discussion to create the task force was stimulated in part by a desire from commission members to support the United Tribes of North Dakota, which wrote a letter in September to North Dakota's congressional delegation demanding that they take action on the issue. The United Tribes of North Dakota is an organization composed of the state's five tribes.

Commissioners met with Mayor Tim Mahoney in October to discuss the task force and, according to Buffalo, "he's very receptive and supportive."

Buffalo said the task force is "still in its infancy." Commissioners have not yet determined how many members it will have or who will be asked to join.

She said commissioners are "compiling a list of potential stakeholders" and researching what is already being done about the issue. They are also formulating what the group's goals will be.

"We want to provide support locally to what is happening statewide and nationally," Buffalo said.

The Native American Commission was formed in 2006 to act as an advisory group to the Fargo City Commission.