MMIR gathered at the Capitol Building in Pierre last Friday

PIERRE, S.D.(DRGNews)- Raising awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) was the goal of a gathering on the Capitol Building lawn last Friday morning in Pierre.

Around 20 people rode horses and ponies from Farm Island (on the east side of Pierre) to the Capitol Building.

Leta Wise Spirit from Pierre spoke about how addiction makes people easier targets to go missing and contributes greatly to the number of indigenous children being cared for by the South Dakota Department of Social Services.

One horse in the group had no visible rider, but Crow Creek tribal chairman Peter Lenkeek says it was carrying a heavy load.

Lenkeek said everyone must acknowledge there’s a problem, before all parties can begin to heal.

The annual 200 mile MMIR ride began as a memorial to the Native American women and children who died when they were exiled from Minnesota to Crow Creek in South Dakota after the 1862 Dakota conflict as well as the indigenous men, women and children currently abused, missing or murdered.