CORRECTION: Fort Thompson family looking for answers, justice

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 12:58 PM CDT
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FORT THOMPSON, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A family on the Crow Creek Reservation continues to mourn the death of a family member. They are still looking for closure after burying Amy Thompson in December of 2021. Amy was found dead on the Lower Brule Reservation near a barbed wire fence. It was not known where she was until weeks later and was discovered.

“She laid there for three weeks and then they put a mattress over her just to try to hide her body,” her uncle Wendell Johnson said. In a previous version of this story, we identified a person believed to be involved but were told that is incorrect and regret the error. As of now, investigators say they cannot comment on the investigation.

Because of the nature of Amy’s death, her family made the tough decision to bury her in a closed casket. Usually, Sioux Native American tradition would warrant an open casket earth burial. The nature of Amy’s death forced the tough decision to go against tradition. The only comfort Wendell can find at her burial site is that she is near her sister Cynthia Thompson and their grandmother, but even that is hard to accept.

“Amy and her sister are sleeping here together now,” Johnson said. “Above them is their grandma. My mother. We shouldn’t have to even be doing this.”

Amy’s death is part of a bigger problem regarding missing and murdered indigenous women that her family and others hope will change one day. State and tribal leaders say they are trying to bridge the communication gap between agencies. A statement from the Department of Public Safety and Highway Patrol told us the following:

“The Highway Patrol, its districts, and troopers have regular communication with tribal law enforcement. These can be general conversations or aiding with assistance with a variety of services, including drone or aircraft use, crash reconstruction, or various pursuit assistance needed on and off tribal lands. The Patrol leads the state in police service dog operations and training and has initially trained tribal dog teams for police work, as well as holding annual certification for these teams. The Highway Patrol has a yearly MOU with Crow Creek where troopers help during the annual pow wow and we have recently been in discussions with the Corson County Sheriff and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe regarding law enforcement issues.”