Ride to raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Relatives, and Peoples held this week

PIERRE, S.D.(DRGNews)- Raising awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Relatives and Peoples (MMIW/MMIR/MMIP) was the goal of a gathering on the South Dakota State Capitol lawn in Pierre this week. Jimmy Hallum from Santee, Nebraska, says the unexplained disappearance of Indigenous peoples has been going on for over a century.

Hallum says no one from state government came out to talk to the group while they were peacefully gathered in front of the Capitol, however, state officials weren’t the only people who didn’t show up. Hallum says most tribal leaders were absent as well.

Hallum says every year there’s an alarming rate of Indigenous people going missing or having their death remain unsolved.

During the 2021 South Dakota legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill creating the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator in the attorney general’s office. Jason Ravnsborg (rounds-berg), who was attorney general at the time, said the law didn’t include funding to pay the person. In November 2022, then-Attorney General Mark Vargo hired Allison Morrisette to be the state’s first ever Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator.

Hallum says it’s frustrating that it took around two years for someone to be hired– and when they were, the state isn’t the entity that came up with the money to pay the salary.

Hallum hopes Indigenous and non-Indigenous people will come together now to begin addressing the MMIP crisis. One step in that reconciliation process happened in January 2023, when the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office established the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Advisory Council. The group will advise the Attorney General on establishing goals, protocols and parameters for the MMIP Office.