South Dakota’s MMIP: group formed to search within minutes when community member is missing

South Dakota’s MMIP: group formed to search within minutes when community member is missing
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 11:22 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -November is Native American Heritage Month. As we share stories of rich culture and celebration, we also share the struggles and hardships, including the search for answers for those who are missing or murdered.

According to the National Urban Indian Health Institute, murder is the third leading cause of death for Native women. Urban Indian Health Institute details were compiled from a survey of 71 U.S. cities in 2016.

A group in Fort Thompson has formed to search for missing relatives within minutes rather than hours, hoping to save lives.

When you sit down and listen to their stories, it’s staggering to hear how many people are missing a loved one or have lost them to a murder. Annette Farmer remembers the day she heard the tragic news in her family.

“My cousin was murdered here in Sioux Falls. And she was just kind of left there,” said Farmer.

She also lost a friend.

“And that hit our school pretty hard because the ladies that did it we were very close with also,” said Farmer.

The violence and loss go to the core.

“Native Americans really go through a lot of trauma,” said Farmer.

Tahsa His Law lost four family members in Chamberlain, Sioux falls, Sisseton, and Colorado.

“I can’t even explain the hurt and the heartache,” said His Law.

Understanding the pain, she’s formed a group to help others.

“Waciuanpi, it’s helping not just my family but everybody else’s family,” said His Law.

When notified of a missing person, she jumps into action.

“So I reach out to the family either by text or Facebook, and I’m like: Can I do a flyer and post it,” said His Law.

A pre-arranged search group can help within minutes.

“The Lower Brule fire department and Crow Creek wildlife because they get there,” said His Law. “And it’s like a snap of a finger.”

Since forming in August of 2021, there have been four searches. When someone is missing, there’s no time to speculate if it was an abduction, a runaway, or another situation. His Law believes everyone missing is vulnerable.

“I-90 is the main transportation for human trafficking. We don’t have that time,” said His Law.

As you or I may go out for dinner or run an errand after dark, Farmer says as a Native American Woman with young daughters, it’s not a risk she’s willing to take.

“I don’t go outside at night,” said Farmer. “I go through, and I make sure my house is locked down.”

She believes if those committing the crimes were held to a different level, perhaps she and her daughters would feel less vulnerable.

“You can make a website. You can get all the awareness you can, but it comes back to Justice”,” said Farmer. “Is justice being served?”