New billboards in Rapid City call attention to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - A national campaign around Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women just launched this week and South Dakota is the first state to see it.

The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council and the Global Indigenous Council want to highlight the number of Native American women who go missing or are murdered and may not be reported.

The National Crime Information Center found that, in 2016, there were 5,712 reports of missing Native American women and girls, however the U.S. Department of Justice's federal missing persons database, NamUs, only logged 116.

The national campaign is kicking off in South Dakota because it's between Billings, Montana and Minneapolis, two cities known as hubs for trafficking Native American women, according to the tribal councils.

This campaign is also helping tribes brace for the man "camps" that will be built this summer in proximity to reservation boundaries due to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Tribal leaders cite an increase in violence towards Native American women when the man camps in Bakken, North Dakota went up.

They are hoping this campaign raises awareness around this issue.

"We are trying to inspire everyone, the tribes to put up a billboard," said Brandon Sazue Sr. chairman on the Global Indigenous Council. "But let's fight this issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women."

The campaign will expand to Montana, Alaska, Washington state, Arizona and New Mexico through the spring. The Urban Indian Health Institute reported these areas as having the highest incidences of MMIW cases.