AG creates council to advise on missing indigenous people

January 5, 2023 GMT

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Attorney General Mark Vargo has created a council to advise him on missing and murdered indigenous people.

The Rapid City Journal reported Wednesday that a disproportionate percentage of missing people in South Dakota are indigenous. They make up only 9% of the state’s population but 60% of people listed on the state’s missing person’s clearinghouse.

The council consists of advocates, prosecutors and law enforcement representatives for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tribal and state agencies as well as state lawmakers.

The council will advise the attorney general’s office on what protocols to create for the state’s new Missing and Murdered Indigenous People office. The office currently employs one person, coordinator Allison Morrisette, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. She started in the position at the end of November and is based in Rapid City.

The council is scheduled to meet for the first time on Feb. 14. On June 30, they’ll deliver a list of goals and objectives for the MMIP coordinator and then meet at least annually after that to receive a report from the coordinator, according to a press release.

Most council members’ names haven’t been released. Vargo spokesman Stewart Huntington said Vargo wants to give the council time to reach a consensus on goals before announcing the full membership.