PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A former legislator who’s now the elected head of an American Indian tribe in South Dakota told some of his past colleagues Monday that state government should give more help to tribal governments when a person goes missing from one of their nine reservation areas.
Oglala Sioux chairman Kevin Killer joined Democratic Representative Peri Pourier of Pine Ridge in presenting HB 1199. The legislation would create within the state office of attorney general a special liaison for missing and murdered indigenous persons.
The House State Affairs Committee after a lengthy question-and-answer period endorsed her bill 9-4. The full House could debate it as early as Tuesday afternoon.
Pourier said South Dakota currently has 107 missing persons and 77 are indigenous, including four who were one-year-olds and four between the ages of four and six years when they disappeared. “What’s happening right now isn’t working. We must take additional steps on this issue,” she said.
Killer, who served from 2009 through 2016 in the House and 2017-18 in the Senate, recently won the OST chairmanship election in a crowded field. “I think there’s a multitude of opportunities and possibilities here,” he told committee members about Pourier’s legislation.
The attorney general office didn’t take a position for or against the proposal and didn’t have anyone participate in the hearing. For months the office has been distributing short videos each Monday highlighting two or three missing persons. Pourier said she had worked with the office on the bill.
On Monday afternoon, the Senate unanimously backed a resolution from Senate Democrat Troy Heinert of Mission calling for “an official inquiry into the Medals of Honor given to United States soldiers for the involvement and participation of the soldiers in the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890.”
Republican Senator Jessica Castleberry of Rapid City had amended it slightly in a committee hearing last week, replacing the word “rescind” with a more temperate “investigate.”