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Press Release

Attorney General Recognizes South Dakota Victim Witness Coordinator for Exceptional Service in Indian Country

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota
Attorney Generals Award

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Marlys Big Eagle, Victim Witness Coordinator for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota, was one of only 295 department employees nationwide recognized by Attorney General William P. Barr at the 67th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony, held recently at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.  The Attorney General’s Award is the most coveted and prestigious national award given to members of the United States Department of Justice.  This annual ceremony recognizes employees and other individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievements, leadership, and service to the Department of Justice and the American people.  Big Eagle was recognized by Attorney General Barr for her exceptional service in Indian Country.  U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons attended the ceremony at Constitution Hall with Big Eagle. 

“Our greatest strength in our fight for justice is our people – the thousands of men and women who have dedicated their careers, often at great personal sacrifice, to working for justice in America,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “As we reflect on the contributions of each of the individuals we honor today, we should hold them up as examples of excellence that continue to inspire our own commitment, and also as reminders of the professionalism and the qualities exhibited throughout the Department.”

“Our friend and colleague Marlys Big Eagle is incredibly deserving of this prestigious honor,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons.  “She is a truly exceptional person and, as this award confirms, one of the brightest lights and most powerful advocates for victim rights and the welfare of those living in Native American communities in the entire Department of Justice.”

Ms. Big Eagle, an enrolled member of the Hunkpati Oyate Crow Creek Sioux (Tribe), has provided victim services for the District of South Dakota since 1998 and is the principal coordinator supervising two additional victim-witness providers.  In the coordinator capacity, Ms. Big Eagle supervises all aspects of the office’s victim witness program, including providing services, coordinating trial victims and witnesses, and conducting training for all of the office’s personnel. 

Ms. Big Eagle’s leadership has long been recognized by Federal, State, and Tribal prosecutors, law enforcement officers, other victim assistance providers, and Tribal leaders.  Her 21-years of service with the Department of Justice has resulted in an exponential improvement in the delivery of crucial services to Indian Country victims.  Her unique perspective as an enrolled Tribe member and her wealth of knowledge and experience has made a decisively positive impact in the lives of thousands of Native American women and children who have had to make the complex journey through the Federal criminal justice system.

Separately, as part of the EOUSA Mentorship program, Ms. Big Eagle has provided national instruction, leadership, and services to numerous other districts when called upon to assist with federal prosecutions in Indian Country.  Because of her widely acknowledged expertise, she has mentored, trained and started Indian Country victim assistance programs in Nebraska, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Virginia, and Utah.  Ms. Big Eagle is regularly called upon by other victim advocates from across the country for guidance on Indian Country victim-witness issues and how these issues interplay with complicated Department of Justice policy and regulations. 

Ms. Big Eagle has also developed and produced written and video training material to provide guidance to children and adult victims and witnesses in the criminal justice process.  This material includes the “Tell the Truth” children's video and the adult court orientation video “A Journey through the Federal Justice System,” both of which are used extensively by prosecutors to prepare victims for the stressful process of being a witness in a federal trial.  In 2018, Ms. Big Eagle volunteered for the Hurricane relief efforts as part of FEMA’s request to the Department Of Justice for Surge Capacity assistance.  Most recently, Ms. Big Eagle helped to develop and appears in an educational awareness video addressing sex trafficking in Indian Country.  Entitled “REACH to End Sex Trafficking in Native American Communities.”  The video was released in February 2019 and is being distributed nationwide.

In addition to her home district responsibilities, Ms. Big Eagle served on the EOUSA’s Rapid Response Victim Assistance Team.  In this capacity, she has lent her extraordinary expertise working with victims in several large-scale federal prosecutions nationwide.  Those efforts include spending weeks in Charleston, S.C., working with the deceased victims’ surviving family members in the United States v. Dylan Roof federal hate-crime prosecution; working with the deceased victims’ family members in the United States v. Whitey Bulger racketeering and murder prosecution in Boston; and working with elderly victims of a large-scale Jamaican lottery scheme targeting victims across the upper Midwest.


Updated November 25, 2019