A motorcycle ride raises awareness of cold cases
Native American women and supporters of missing, murdered indigenous women gathered Sunday morning in the Black Hills for a prayer and memorial ride for the victims.
At Bear Butte park, a prayer ceremony was lifted for sisters, mothers and daughters lost. The newly founded local chapter of “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women,” hosted a ride to honor women who have been brutally killed and women who have vanished without a trace. Iowa Resident Boone Whipp says he has been looking for his cousin’s whereabouts for years,
“I have a cousin Rita Papakee that’s been missing for 5 years. She was walking out of our casino and nobody’s seen her since.”
Hundreds of riders gathered in the Black Hills, a sacred place to Lakota founders, to shed light on the increasing number of cold cases. Organizers of the movement say the inter-tribal ride during Rally week is a deliberate move to remind families of missing loved ones around the globe that prayers continue to be lifted for those still seeking closure, long after their names are no longer in headlines.
“We decided to pivot our love and passion for motorcycling into an awareness event, a memorial event for the missing and murdered indigenous women family and children,” says Shelly Denny, the Co-Founder of the MMIW Medicine Wheel Ride movement.
The non-profit partnered with two other local organizations for the day’s event. The Red Ribbon Skirts Society and a new woman shelter in Rapid City called “where all women are honored.” Lily Mendoza who is the founder of Red Ribbon Skirt Society said,
“For those families that are out there, these women and these men that are here as well, we are riding for your stolen sister.”
Mayor of Sturgis Mark Carstensen also made an appearance to show support for the cause. He says,
“This is the most positive power you can feel is groups of people like this. i’m glad to be a part of it.”
This comes at the heels of the formation of a new federal cold case unit for missing and murdered Native Americans in Rapid City, a task force which has been charged with solving cold cases. Natives hope this crisis will not plague their community much longer.