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Press Release

As MMIP Awareness Month Draws to a Close, U.S. Attorney's Office Reaffirms Its Commitment to Public Safety in Indian Country

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

SIOUX FALLS - It has long been a priority of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to address the disproportionately high rates of violence experienced by Native Americans living in reservations in our state, and relatedly, the high rates of indigenous persons reported missing. As Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Awareness Month draws to a close, the U.S. Attorney’s Office renews its commitment to work with federal, tribal, state, and local law enforcement partners to respond to the crisis of violence and abuse in our tribal communities with the urgency these matters demand.

In the last year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has demonstrated its commitment by securing additional resources for Indian country prosecutors, including an MMIP AUSA that is now located in Pierre and serving the Great Plains Region. We have resolved previously unsolved cases, including the 1992 murder of a minor victim in Roberts County. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Peterman served as a Department of Justice representative on the Not Invisible Act Commission, which held seven in-person hearings and one national virtual hearing. In all, the Commission heard from 260 witnesses who shared their suffering and hope, expertise, experiences, and recommendations. In November of 2023, the Commission published “Not One More: Findings & Recommendations of the Not Invisible Act Commission,” which detailed their findings and included hundreds of recommendations to the Departments of Justice and Interior. As Chair of the AGAC’s Native American Issues Subcommittee, U.S. Attorney Ramsdell participated in and led national conversations about the Department of Justice’s response to this report, including at the White House Tribal Nations Summit in December 2023.

And throughout the year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office engaged in regular outreach to tribal communities to address MMIP issues and other public safety concerns, including at tribal council meetings, school assemblies, tribal law enforcement trainings, tribally organized conferences, and community forums. Lastly, federal prosecutors and victim witness specialists engaged in monthly multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meetings in each reservation, and the District’s Law Enforcement Coordinator joined with federal prosecutors and investigators to conduct in-person opioid training for federal, tribal, state, and local law enforcement in Rosebud, Eagle Butte, Pine Ridge, Yankton, and Mobridge.

Most recently, on May 14, 2024, the U.S. Attorney’s Office hosted a Tribal MMIP Summit in Pierre, SD, to introduce tribal leaders to the concept of Tribal Community Response Plans (TCRP), which are guides for how tribal communities will respond to reports of missing persons. Importantly, the development of these plans is led by Tribes, allowing each Tribe to incorporate culturally appropriate protocols into every aspect of the TCRP. Leadership from all nine South Dakota Tribes were invited to the Summit, where participants heard presentations from federal and state law enforcement partners, including the FBI, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Social Security Administration, and the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, as well as prosecutors and personnel from within the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office.

Participants also heard from members of the Fort Peck Tribes, including Fort Peck’s chief tribal judge, lead criminal investigator, and Chief of Police, who jointly discussed the challenges and advantages to developing a TCRP and other opportunities for cross-jurisdictional collaboration with state and federal partners. Lastly, representatives from the National Criminal Justice Training Center of Fox Valley Technical College were in attendance to discuss training and technical assistance available to Tribes, including resources to assist with the development of TCRPs. Representatives also discussed the availability of AMBER Alert training to improve the investigative response of local law enforcement to high-risk victims and children in crisis. As part of this outreach, each Tribe received AMBER Alert in Indian Country Toolkits, which will assist officers in quickly gathering necessary information to ensure AMBER Alerts and NCIC entries include as much information as possible. Items included tools such as mobile printers, scanners, and hotspots.

This engagement follows on decades of work by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota to develop meaningful relationships with tribal leaders and their communities. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office has been unwavering in its commitment to improving public safety in Indian country,” said U.S. Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell. “We remain committed to listening closely to tribal communities and working collaboratively with our federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners to address public safety concerns throughout Indian country.”


Updated May 31, 2024

Community Outreach
Indian Country Law and Justice