SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – As of Wednesday, the South Dakota Missing Persons page on the attorney general’s website lists 91 missing people in the state. 62 of those are Indigenous people.

House Bill 1199 is an act to establish the Office of Liaison for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons. Tuesday, Governor Kristi Noem signed it into law.

Kellen Returns from Scout works for the Great Plains Tribal Chairmans Association and worked closely with lawmakers on this bill.

“This issue has been an ongoing issue and raising awareness certainly is one thing, but taking the steps towards, you know, addressing it and trying to find, you know, some solutions to, you know, those ongoing sort of obstacles that are really hindering the process of trying to find, trying to, you know, curb those jurisdictional gaps,” Returns from Scout said.

The office would serve as a space for all jurisdictions, from tribal to federal, to work together in locating missing or murdered indigenous persons. It will be established through the Office of the Attorney General.

“You know, this office that seems like is pretty insignificant in that it’s kind of a no-brainer, doesn’t exist and people don’t understand, I think, or have a whole lot of understanding about those jurisdictional gaps,” Returns from Scout said. “You know, those jurisdictional gaps that exist either from just historical just continuation of misunderstanding and lack of understanding.”

Leaders from each of the nine tribal nations in South Dakota testified in favor of this bill.

“Having tribal leaders come and say that we’re willing to work together,” Returns from Scout said. “We’re willing to work together to find, you know, the federal funding, we’re willing to find, you know, how we will staff this office and how we can work together and coordinate. That’s an important step.”