“We have an epidemic of missing and murdered relatives all across the nation.”
MHA Nation member Lissa Yellow Bird-Chase has devoted her life to searching for missing and murdered people in North Dakota.
“We basically go from area to area and offer training. We work with families, we do searches, we have cadaver dogs, we do preliminary investigations that we turn over to law enforcement, especially when a case needs some like or attention,” said Yellow Bird-Chase.
Lissa started being an advocate 10 years ago and created a group called Sahnish Scouts in 2015, hoping to help on a larger scale.
“The support we get mostly was self-funded, Through my life savings and all the assets I had. More recently we’ve had people donating,” she said.
She says being native in Bismarck wasn’t easy — but going to school in Minot allowed her to embrace her native culture.
“Growing up in North Dakota off Res was hard because I was native in a predominantly white city. I wasn’t ugly, I didn’t have a different language — it was solely based on my skin color and I was targeted for that,” said Yellow Bird-Chase.
Her passion to help comes from her own life experiences. When she was about 15 years old, she became a victim of trafficking.
“I was basically groomed and trafficked by somebody out of the Bismarck area so I moved to Bismarck. So yea I ended up in that situation until I was of majority age,” said Yellow Bird-Chase.
Lissa says life has been hard making being successful, difficult.
But today, she has led more than 100 searches and has helped even more families than that.
“I try to be that person that wasn’t there for me through all of my trials and tribulations, whether it be sex trafficking, drugs, alcohol, whatever,” said Yellow Bird-Chase.
Lissa is now a mother of six; two of them are in the military and were just sent to Ukraine.
“I found a sense of pride being from North Dakota, even though it’s cold, even though it’s windy, we have our beauty here,” she said.
Lissa plans to continue being an advocate for victims with no voice.
To learn more about what Lissa has done for the community, check out the book Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country.
It’s an entire book about the work she’s done.