SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — You would never see Neil ‘Mesu’ Little Eagle without a smile on his face and a positive attitude, his family says.

Mesu (left) and family. Photo courtesy: Carietta White Lance.

Mesu, as he was affectionately called by friends and family because it means ‘little brother’, was last seen on July 27, 2017. Mesu’s family was told that a concerned citizen dropped him off at the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety building because they were worried about his safety.

Nobody has seen Mesu since that day.

Mesu’s sister, Cheryl Little Eagle, describes her brother as a happy, helpful man. “They always remember his big ol’ smile,” Cheryl told KELOLAND News over the phone.

According to Cheryl, Mesu had been recently diagnosed with dementia before he went missing in 2017. He had been living with Cheryl in Nebraska but had travelled to the Pine Ridge area because they had a cousin who lived in Porcupine, South Dakota.

“The seizures he gets, he forgets everything,” Cheryl explained. “He won’t have a memory of it after he’s done with his seizures.” 

Mesu is also legally blind.

That makes the search for him that much more important, his cousin Carietta White Lance said.

When White Lance learned of Mesu’s disappearance, she wanted to help find him in any way she was able. That included making a Facebook page, contacting law enforcement to gather information and organizing a search that will take place in September.

White Lance placed calls with Nebraska authorities, the FBI in Rapid City, Highway Patrol and tribal law enforcement trying to find answers.

“I’ve been trying to reach out to the Pine Ridge Police Department in regard to any updates, follow ups, anything and to no avail. I have not yet to this day received any response back,” White Lance said.

KELOLAND News has also tried contacting the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety several times to discuss cases but have not yet received a response.

Cheryl doesn’t feel as though law enforcement is taking her brother’s case seriously.

“They put it behind and closed the case because they’re trying to assume that he’s just a grown person that just took off and ran away or something,” Cheryl said. 

Both Cheryl and White Lance want support in finding Mesu after five years of waiting.

Photo courtesy: Carietta White Lance

“We’re at the point where if he has journeyed into the Spirit World then he’s going to be happy because his mother and father and his sisters over there, a lot of our ancestors, you know, that have passed on. But if he’s somewhere safe, at least let us know he’s safe,” White Lance said.

Cheryl misses her brother a lot as they lived together for most of their lives. Their connection is not something Cheryl has with anyone else.

“He speaks our [Lakota] language. You know, me and him, are the only ones left in our family that speaks that language,” Cheryl said.

In September, the family plans to host a search in Pine Ridge beginning at the public safety building where he was last seen. For now, they are using the Justice 4 Neil Mesu Little Eagle Facebook page to share information and photos about Mesu.

“I told my cousin Cheryl, this is going to be my life’s mission to bring him home,” White Lance said. “I pass out water all the time, you know water is life, and I put his little flyer on the bottles of water just to bring awareness.”

For White Lance, she misses her cousin who practically raised her and her siblings. Mesu’s disappearance has been weighing heavy on her mind.

“I told [Cheryl] this morning, I said, ‘I woke up; I dreamt about Mesu last night. He’s not telling me where he’s at but he’s smiling wherever he’s at,’” White Lance said. “I believe that if we continue to say his name, I said he’s gonna bring us to him. I’m not going to quit looking.”

When he went missing, Mesu was 49-years-old; today, he would be 54-years-old. The Missing Persons page on the Attorney General website lists Mesu as 5’4″ with brown hair and brown eyes, weighing approximately 170 lbs.

He was last seen wearing black and red shorts and a red shirt. Authorities believed he was heading to Nebraska at the time of his disappearance.