SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The latest data tells us that South Dakota has 70 missing indigenous people, and a bill making its way through the South Dakota state legislature calls for help in finding them.
As of March 5th, the South Dakota Missing Persons Clearinghouse on the Office of the Attorney General’s website lists 107 missing people in South Dakota. 70 of those people are indigenous, and 55 of the 70 went missing at the age of 18 or younger. 42 of those 55 missing indigenous young people are from west of the Missouri River. House Bill 1199 passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, and it is set to be read on the Senate floor on Monday.
“There’s four children who went missing at the age of one on reservations and there’s four children who are six and four ages that went missing on reservations. We’ve never heard their stories. You’ve probably never even seen their picture,” Rep. Peri Pourier (D) Pine Ridge said.
All those missing people are why Democratic Representative Peri Pourier sponsored House Bill 1199 this legislative session. If passed, that bill would form the Office of Liaison for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons. That office would help with finding them as well as supply training for finding them.
“This is something that is needed. This is a way of raising the alarms and raising red flags, waving them loud. Hey, this is a problem and this bill is a step towards a solution,” Pourier said.
House Bill 1199 has both Republicans and Democrats as sponsors.
“I think this is every child matters and we know that if we’re conservative, pro-life Republicans. Children matter. Their rights matter. Their voices matter and this coordinator liaison role would be a voice for those missing children. That should, I hope, resonate with every South Dakotan,” Rep. Jess Olson (R) Rapid City said.
Candi Brings Plenty, the Indigenous Justice Organizer for ACLU of South Dakota, says having an office established for this cause would create a sense of unity across the state.
“We know that every time our children leave our houses, we don’t know if they’re coming back. Every time our youth leave for a athletic event, we don’t know if they’re going to come back. This is something that is relevant in every household within our Indigenous communities, within our Tribal Nations and just being an Indigenous person who resides in South Dakota,” Brings Plenty said.