A new state law beginning July 1, which received unanimous support in the South Dakota House and Senate, is the first step in understanding the depth of the missing and murdered indigenous women issue in the state and begin to address it, supporters say. The law will require the state Division of Criminal Investigation to collect data on missing and murdered indigenous people, and create procedures and training for investigating cases involving women and children.
The state can't fix a problem if it doesn't understand the problem in the first place, explained bill sponsor Sen. Lynne DiSanto, R-Box Elder.
DiSanto hopes the new law helps families feel like the state cares about their loved ones and is trying to help find them. On a larger scale, she hopes it leads to better collaboration between tribal and non-tribal in these cases and sends a message that "every missing South Dakotan is important, worthy of our time and our resources," she said.
Gov. Kristi Noem's support for addressing the issue in South Dakota has included joining the final leg of a group's 200-mile horseback ride to the Capitol in Pierre to bring awareness to missing and murdered indigenous women earlier this month. The new law will allow the state to share information with other state and tribal agencies to "bring these women home," she told the Argus Leader.
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