ND State Rep. Ruth Buffalo Proposes Bills on Missing/Murdered Native People & Anti-Human Trafficking
Buffalo is the first Native American Democrat elected into the North Dakota legislature
FARGO, N.D. — Ruth Buffalo never planed to get into politics. That is until her baby sister was killed by a drunk driver and she started doing some digging.
“That led me down a path of researching traffic fatalities, looking at population growth and looking at the disparities within Fort Berthold Indian Reservation versus oil counties outside of the reservation borders,” Buffalo said.
It was enough to inspire her to get involved in policy change. In 2016, she ran for North Dakota Insurance Commissioner and lost. But she finally got her win in November.
“It’s a huge responsibility. I think it’s long overdue. I’m really inspired by my children, the youth and more Native Americans and more people of diverse backgrounds running for office,” Buffalo said.
When Buffalo won the election for district 27 in Fargo, she unseated Rep. Randy Boehning, the voter ID law’s primary sponsor. The law requires a street address to be on a state or tribal issued ID in order to vote. She didn’t even find that detail out until after she had already won.
“It was kind of a shocker to me to know that detail. Throughout my race I didn’t know that at all. I just focused, throughout my campaign, to reach as many people as I could, introduce myself, but mainly to hear from the voters and what issues did they care about the most,” Buffalo said.
Buffalo has already proposed six bills in the House and five have been passed onto the North Dakota Senate. One bill would require law enforcement training on missing and murdered indigenous people. She’s also proposed a bill that would start a state repository collecting data of missing persons, including indigenous people. Two other of them would require hotels to train their staff to on what the signs of human trafficking are and prevention methods.
“After the death of Savanna Greywind, many of us found ourselves searching for her and trying to bring change and awareness. I think everybody can agree that we want safer and stronger communities and just wanting to make sure that everyone is protected and feels safe,” Buffalo said.
You can check the progress of Buffalo’s bills as they go through the legislature by clicking here.