Skip to main content

SDHC Supports MMIP Programs at Libraries Statewide

Assault. Abduction. Murder.

Among the Indigenous population, 84.3 percent of females have experienced violence in their lifetimes, including 56.1 percent who have experienced sexual violence. Indigenous males have had the second highest rate of homicide compared with males in all other racial and ethnic groups.

Through the National Endowment for the Humanities’ United We Stand: Connecting through Culture initiative, SDHC is partnering with 10 libraries across the state to build awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons.

The library grants are the second phase of SDHC’s United We Stand programming, which began at the 2023 South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood. That event featured several writers who address MMIP issues, including Bitterroot Salish novelist Debra Magpie Earling (Perma Red) and bestselling nonfiction author David Grann (Killers of the Flower Moon).

“Our Festival sessions served as a moving and meaningful kickoff to our exploration of the MMIP crisis,” said Jennifer Widman, SDHC interim executive director. “Now, working with local libraries, we can support programming tailored to the needs of individual communities around the state. We’re excited about the quality and variety of the events our library partners are producing.”

Contributing libraries have planned speakers, panels, remembrances, film screenings, exhibits, and more to address the persistent violence endured by Native American families and communities across the country. Through information literacy, community building, and public engagement, along with resources and programs that foster cross-cultural understanding, empathy, and community resilience, SDHC hopes to increase attention to this crisis.

These libraries are planning MMIP events through SDHC’s United We Stand project:

Events planned for April provide a sampling of the quality and diversity inherent in the libraries’ MMIP programming. In this first month South Dakotans will experience the following:

  • Lily Mendoza teaming up with Joseph M. Marshall III. Mendoza is the founder of the Red Ribbon Skirt Society, a grassroots collective dedicated to confronting the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Children, and Two-Spirit People. Marshall is the author of Sing for the Red Dress, a haunting narrative of the ongoing problem of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. – Gregory Public Library, April 4
  • A screening of The Missing and Murdered. This film documents the Sioux Nations ride from the Santee Reservation in Nebraska to the South Dakota Capitol in Pierre to raise awareness about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Children of their culture. The ride particularly commemorates the families who were removed from their homelands after the mass hanging in Mankato, Minnesota in 1862. – Rapid City Public Library, April 6
  • A showing and discussion of the mini-series Murder in Big Horn. This made-for-TV documentary focuses on the deaths of a group of Native American women in rural Montana as their families, area journalists, and local law enforcement investigate this violent crisis set in motion almost 200 years ago. – Yankton Community Library, April 27
  • A panel discussion among experts in the field, including Marlys Big Eagle and Troy Morley with the U.S. Department of Justice and Elise Boxer and Ariel Swallow of the University of South Dakota, moderated by Yankton Mayor Stephanie Moser. Attendees will learn about MMIP and other current issues facing Indigenous Americans, as well as ways to support South Dakota’s tribal communities. – Yankton Community Library, April 30

Visit SDHC’s events calendar and visually scan the calendar pages for the letters “MMIP” to locate a Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons event near you.

Funding for SDHC’s MMIP grants to libraries has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture initiative.

Learn more about humanities programming in South Dakota by signing up for SDHC e-Updates!