ROBERTS COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — People gathered in the Sisseton area on Friday to honor the memories of missing and murdered Indigenous persons. Among those in attendance were Sheila Lufkins, whose son AJ Lufkins has been missing since 2010.

“We looked and looked,” Sheila Lufkins said. “Searched everywhere, and then just last year I thought we had a good lead, but came up empty again.”

Julie Watts is honoring her late daughter Lakota Renville.

“It’s important to show others that you support them and you know what it’s like,” Watts said. “You don’t have to tell them. Just by them seeing you, by your presence, and I know people appreciate that.”

Stacey Azure of the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe helped organize the event.

“I’ve been trying to reach out to the families for it, to try to bring families in to make more people aware and also to create a list,” Azure said. “I don’t have all the names of everyone that is missing and murdered from our tribe or even surrounding areas.”

She’s pleased with what she saw on the warm, sunny afternoon.

“I didn’t expect so many people … a lot of them came up and talked with me and will be reaching out to me now, so it helps that way so I can get more names to the list and plan a even bigger event for next year,” Azure said.

There’s more than just strength in numbers; there’s hope, too.

“It brings me a lot of hope because they are coming together, and by coming together they’re reaching out, and by reaching out we can help them find the resources they need and then also additional support that they can get,” Azure said.

KELOLAND News will have much more from the families of Lakota Renville and AJ Lufkins in reports we’re planning to bring you in the coming weeks.