NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — The issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People has been a crisis for decades.
This silent plague is affecting thousands of Indigenous women and men across the country.
KX News spoke with members of one organization, doing everything they can to raise awareness and bring their people home.
“It’s the ones with advocates that get found, it’s the ones without advocates that don’t,” said search & rescue drone leader, Nokusece Wind.
For decades, Native American and Alaska Native communities have struggled with high rates of assault, abduction, and murder of women.
Community advocates describe the crisis as a legacy of generations of government policies of forced removal, land seizures and violence inflicted on Native people.
To search and rescue leader, Nokusece Wind, this is an epidemic.
“We were established in 2018 by a group of people who recognized the epidemic of missing and murdered people, and that something needed to be done. We needed to put something out there to help advocate for victims and their families and to show there were people who cared,” says Wind.
The Highway of Tears, or what Wind calls “murder highway”, instantly became a symbol for unchecked violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Many First Nations women and girls have been murdered or disappeared from here and still are missing.
“It comes through North Dakota. It comes all the way through Minnesota, from Canada, through the Dakotas, through Oklahoma, through Texas, and Arizona, New Mexico and it goes back up into California, and that highway lies on and around a lot of reservations,” said Wind.
With over 38,000 followers on Facebook, the organization has a number of supporters and followers beyond each chapter.
But a repost of a missing person’s poster is not all they do.
“Drones and dog teams are used a lot, because with the drone we can search bigger areas. We can search areas faster, we can get into areas that are normally hard to go into,” said Wind.
It’s important to note that with no grants, most resources like drones come from out-of-pocket costs.
A number of investigations remain unsolved often due to a lack of investigative resources available to identify new information.
But here in North Dakota…
“There is an epidemic due to the lack of resources that those communities have, and with the searches, it’s harder in those areas due to the lack of resources. Tribes, in which these groups belong to, or in their district, need to step up and write resolutions for these chapters to help fund these chapters, because it’s an overwhelming epidemic that most of these nations don’t have the manpower or the equipment. So, these chapters pick that up and help from searching to investigations,” says Wind.
According to the Office of the Attorney General, there are currently 92 people missing in North Dakota.
Out of that number, 33 are indigenous people, which makeup 35.86 % of our state’s missing numbers.
Wind says their organization will search for anyone, no matter what you look like.
He says if you see something, say something, no matter how big or small.
To learn more about this organization, search for a chapter or to create your own, visit https://www.facebook.com/missingflowersmmiwm/ .