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Vargo announces MMIP Advisory Council

MMIP announcement
Lee Strubinger
Left to right: Human Trafficking Coordinator Mary Beth Holzwarth, Attorney General Mark Vargo, Representative Peri Pourier and MMIP Coordinator Allison Morrisette. Vargo is announcing a new advisory council that will guide the coordinator position.

Outgoing Attorney General Mark Vargo is announcing the formation of a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Advisory Council.

That group is comprised of advocates, prosecutors and law enforcement from BIA, tribal and state agencies. State lawmakers will also sit on the council.

"The MMIP initiative within the Attorney General's Office is extremely important for the state," said Vargo. "When the legislature established the MMIP position, it left it up to the Attorney General to fill in the details. That task will be done best with input from all appropriate corners."

Indigenous people make up a disproportionate number of missing person cases—about 60 percent in South Dakota alone. Many of those cases can get lost between jurisdictions

The council will advise incoming Attorney General Marty Jackley on goals and parameters for the newly formed position.

“The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Office, with the guidance of this Advisory Council, will do important work in this state,” said Jackley. “This is an opportunity to help those looking for answers to the fate of their family members and loved ones.”

Late last year Attorney General Vargo announced Allison Morrisette as the first MMIP coordinator.

Vargo will co-chair the council alongside former Oglala Sioux Tribe Attorney General Tatewin Means.

Means said issues surrounding missing and murdered indigenous women demand attention

"I look forward to working with MMIP Coordinator Allison Morrisette, the Council and the Attorney General in making the MMIP Coordinator efforts successful," Means added.

The council is set to hold its first meeting on Feb. 14. In June, it will deliver a report the attorney general listing goals and objectives for the coordinator position.

The group will meet at least once a year going forward.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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  • An Oglala Lakota woman will lead a position to coordinate resources to find missing and murdered indigenous people. The South Dakota Attorney General’s office is announcing the hiring of two women to address the issue, as well as human trafficking.