SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — For the past two weeks our news crews have been gathering stories about the MMIP crisis on South Dakota’s reservations. Over the next two weeks you’ll be able to watch them on KELOLAND News. Lauren Soulek has one of the countless stories from the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The Missing, Murdered Indigenous People epidemic impacts reservation land across the country. On the Pine Ridge Reservation, it’s hard to find a family of the Oglala Sioux Tribe who hasn’t been impacted by violence. Many of the cases remain unsolved.
“Stuff like this happens in big cities but anymore in this day and age it happens anywhere, a murder or a killing. She didn’t have to go through that. She didn’t deserve it. Nobody deserves that,” William Makes Him First, brother of Maria Makes Him First, said.
The body of Maria Makes Him First was found on July 17 in Pine Ridge. Her death is being investigated as a homicide.
Friends and family laid Maria to rest in the Oglala cemetery on July 27th — 10 days after her body was found in Pine Ridge. Those who knew her say Maria had a good sense of humor and was always willing to help others.
While KELOLAND News was gathering MMIP stories in the Pine Ridge area two weeks ago, her family invited our crew to her burial service. While there, friends and family of Maria told how they just hope this case doesn’t go unsolved.
“She really had a kind heart and she did not deserve to … she did not deserve to be laying here right now,” Monique “Muffie” Mousseau, a relative to Maria, said.
“She had a lot of compassion, she had a big heart. She didn’t deserve this,” William Makes Him First said.
As her family said goodbye they were still waiting for news of an arrest.
“There’s no reason why somebody should be walking the streets right now,” Phillip Yellow Hawk, Maria’s brother, said. “So all this has to come to a head sometime and you hurt our family real bad. And it’s hard to even think about what, somebody is out there doing whatever and did this to us and our family got smaller.”
As her coffin was lowered and flowers were placed beside her, friends and family prayed for answers.
“I hope the person or persons are caught and brought to justice because what happened behind me, she’s laying there, you know. We didn’t even have to be here this day,” William Makes Him First said.
“And I hope they give this person life because Marie did not deserve to be murdered, victimized, violented,” Mousseau said. “And we’re going to do whatever we can because she was a good person and did not deserve where we’re at right now today. And there’s a lot of people that came together for her because they knew she was a good, kind-hearted person and she wouldn’t hurt a fly. She did not deserve this.”
We reached out to law enforcement for an update on the investigation, but haven’t heard back.
Hear her story and her family’s call for justice in Monday night’s Eye on KELOLAND at 10 p.m. CT.