MMIW advocates warn to be vigilant of human trafficking as Rally approaches

RAPID CITY S.D. — There are currently numerous unsolved cases of missing and murdered indigenous women in South Dakota and with the 79th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally less than two weeks away, advocates for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women are reminding us to be vigilant against human trafficking.

During the summertime, thousands flock to the Black Hills for the Sturgis Rally and other events. Experts say I-90, the Rally, and man camps are hot-spots for trafficking.

“I know that’s not a good thing to be known for South Dakota, but it’s the reality of the situation,” said Lily Mendoza, a co-founder with the Red Ribbon Skirt Society.

The Red Ribbon Skirt Society looks to raise awareness about, what they deem, an epidemic. Whether it’s at a Powwow, a park, or at the store, experts tell us to be aware of the signs of human trafficking.

“It’s training our mindset in how we see our surroundings and what we hear people say,” said Mendoza.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous advocates also urge us to be open with each other and communicate at home.

“You need to let your children know that no matter what, they have to tell you that it’s going to be safe,” said Mary Black Bonnet, a co-founder with the Red Ribbon Skirt Society.

A new law, which requires authorities to collect data on the missing and murdered, went into effect this month. But some say the law doesn’t go far enough. They propose an online database where people can share information on victims and abductors.

“By not getting that information, the trauma that the families are going through, the chaos that is happening in their family unit, they don’t know how to process that in a healthy way,” said Carla Douglas with the Red Ribbon Skirt Society.

And for the families of those who lose children, Mendoza says there’s a healing center at the Racing Magpie Art Gallery in Rapid City.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News