A new healing center for people affected by missing and murdered Indigenous women is open in Rapid City. The space is the first of its kind and allows people to meditate and remember victims.
Lily Mendoza is a Cofounder of the Red Ribbon Skirt Society. That’s a group in the Black Hills that helps educate the community on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Two Spirited, or LGBTQIA people.
“We know the numbers are out there. Close to 5,000 documented cases, 70 here in South Dakota and rising. And I think it’s just now that we’ve been paying attention to that crisis, that’s where that comes from. Is the need for us to look at ways we can stop that.”
Mendoza sits in an armchair in the corner of a small room in the Racing Magpie Art Gallery. The walls are decorated with red dresses from a recent art installation called the Why Campaign to draw attention to the missing community members. Each dress is handmade and have cloth tags attached with the names of local victims. Mendoza says this space is permanent.
“What we noticed when we did our event there is that people were looking for a place to go and share their stories and a place to heal and to grieve through a process of lost ones. Even a family and community members going amongst the dresses in the grounds. I would get posts that they’d gone there even to just start out the day. To go there to pray and to heal.”
There are two chairs in the dimly lit room and artwork surrounding the space. Mendoza says it’s created for meditation, remembrance and prayer.
“People can bring items, they can bring pictures, they can sage, they can bring sweetgrass, flowers-whatever they would like to bring and put them on the altar.”
Mendoza says it’s free to the public. The space is open Tuesday thru Saturday from noon to 4:30, but the hours increase in the Summer.