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Murdered and missing Indigenous women and children group partners with police

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 7:43 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The Red Ribbon Skirts Society opened their first office today. They’re an organization founded by Indigenous women that promotes awareness surrounding missing and murdered women and children.

These are crimes of which happen at a significantly higher rates to Indigenous peoples than other ethnicities.

The society helps to cope with the aftermath of loss through healing rooms.

Lily Mendoza, the Founder of the Red Ribbon Skirts Society, empathized with the sorrows associated with those who have been lost.

“What I really focused on was the families and how they were dealing with the grief,” says Mendoza. “Checking in with them by asking, ‘how are you doing,’ after having lost a daughter, mother or grandmother.”

The women don’t want the memory of those who were lost to fade.

“What we did was, we hung red dresses at the Journey Museum and on those dresses we had the names of the seventy plus women here in South Dakota. Not just for human trafficking, but for our stolen sister,” Mendoza adds. “The dresses are red because what we believe, and what we know, is that red is the color that spirits can see.”

The Red Ribbon Skirts Society has gained so much attention that they’re officially partnering with the authorities to make a difference.

Red Ribbon Skirts Society Member, Darla Black, is pleased with the progress.

“We took it a step further, we partnered with the Rapid City Police department,” Black says proudly. “That’s a huge step by partnering with them, because we can shoot it over to law enforcement and the investigations can begin immediately. "

The Rapid City Police Department shares their goals and interest in bringing justice to these women.

RCPD Lieutenant Tim Doyle thinks it’s going to be helpful to their process.

“It’s really partnering from here on moving forward, and trying to, maybe, solve these sooner,” LT. Doyle says. “Again, with the partnership and better information. These are a bunch of powerful women, and it’s definitely going to be a good partnership and, hopefully, it just grows from here.”

The office will be the first in South Dakota to have a healing room, and their message is clear.

“We’ve had some of the families come here that have lost loved ones. Just to come here to pray. For our people, healing is significant. We want to save our sisters. We want to say, ‘no more stolen sisters.’”

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