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South Dakotans to join federal commission on missing and murdered Indigenous people

Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day
U.S. Department of the Interior

A pair of South Dakota law enforcement officials have been named to a federal commission tasked with helping improve how the government addresses a decades-long crisis of missing and murdered Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Rapid City Police Chief Don Hedrick and Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Peterman will join the panel of nearly 40 law enforcement officials, tribal leaders, social workers and survivors of violence that was announced by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland last week.

Native American people have consistently accounted for roughly 70% of South Dakota's missing people in recent years.

Federal, tribal, state and local officials have been trying to address disproportionately high rates of unsolved cases in which Native Americans and Alaska Natives have disappeared or been killed.

The 37-member commission, created under the Not Invisible Act, is expected to hold hearings and gather testimony before making recommendations to the Interior and Justice departments to improve coordination among agencies and to establish best practices for state, tribal and federal law enforcement. The panel also is tasked with boosting resources for survivors and victims’ families.