Murders and crimes against Indians fly under the radar
PIERRE –– When the family of Loren “Low” Two Eagle came into the offices of Native Sun News asking for help in solving the death of their relative, not a single person from federal, state, or tribal law enforcement contacted the family in response to the article published in NSN.
No flag-flown marches from the American Indian Movement. No demanding rallies from the Native Lives Matter group. No strongly-worded editorials from the Last Real Indians publication. No cyber-bullying from the United Urban Warrior Society. Nothing.
In fact, it was a lone relative on horseback who found Loren’s body floating in a small lake several days after he went missing in an area previously searched.
Three months later and the Two Eagle family have not even received an autopsy report. This lack of response does not allow for closure for the family of Loren Two Eagle. They officially don’t know his cause of death.
The Violent Crimes Act gives jurisdiction to the feds when it comes to homicide investigations, but it’s the BIA and tribal police who have boots-on-the-ground insight and information. They live in the communities with the families of the murdered and missing.
Loren’s story is just one in many cases in and around South Dakota reservations which, for one reason or another is either placed into the social media campaigns against the lack of action for the murdered and missing or is quietly ignored as organizers await investigation results.
Because Two Eagle was a known user of meth, his death has been referred to as a suicide by some. But the family adamantly disagrees.
Currently, there is not a system in place which activates and sparks the general interest in searching for family members. Depending on an unknown socio-political algorithm, not all tribal members are given equal treatment when it comes to searches.
• Andrew Jon Lufkins – Last seen April 7, 2010 in Sisseton outside of the American Legion after a fight with another man.
• Beverly Ann Ulrich – Last seen October 17, 2003 in Bell Fourche. She was 42 years old at the time of her disappearance.
• Loren Two Eagle – Last seen November 2, 2015 in Parmalee. Found in a remote area pond near home. Family suspects foul play.
• Victoria Jane Eagleman – Last seen July 28, 2006 in Lower Brule. Her body was found in a culvert near Medicine Creek.
• Alejandro Gay Vasquez – Last seen October 29, 2015 in Kyle. A recent search of the area was not successful.
• Jessie Renae Waters – Last seen April 30, 2015. Badly bruised, lifeless body found just outside of Oglala on a fire road.
• Robert Ghost Bear – Last seen March 21, 2012. Found dead on the railroad tracks near East Boulevard north in Rapid City.
• Janie Sue McDougal – Last seen September 1, 2014. Autopsy report listed the death as homicide. Jury in murder case says suicide.
The families of these individuals want justice and knowledge of the truth, as do the hundreds of murdered and missing tribal members in South Dakota.
Still deep in a traditional mourning period, Loren’s father Leonard Two Eagle, who up until recently has remained silent, posted this week on his Facebook page, “I recently read an announcement from the Rosebud Police Dept. on the recovery of stolen Star Quilts and arrest of perpetrators. Great job … I am under the assumption that these are more important or have priority (over) the loss of life.”
Continues the former tribal policeman, “My son passed away under suspicious circumstances and many residents of Parmalee are saying they know who was involved in my son’s untimely and tragic passing. Yet, our local law enforcement, police or criminal investigators have not been actively pursuing an investigation on the matter.”
Loren’s father shares publicly the frustration felt by many families over the decades and recently by saying, “People have come forward giving information … but so far nothing is being to my knowledge. We have not been contacted nor informed of anything. There are a lot of leads but not being followed. We; the family of Loren Two Eagle, are seeking justice for him.”
Loren was a single-parent raising a 6-year-old boy at the time of his death. Loren’s sister recently told Native Sun News that teachers, family and others are hoping for justice for the sake of the young boy. Lisa Two Eagle, the boy’s aunt was told by her nephew, “My dad is up there (pointing at the sky). He jumps from clouds to clouds. I see him up there.”
Being dependent on the feds, BIA, tribal police, and activist organizations are leaving many families frustrated and feeling hopeless in these times of mourning the loss of loved ones. If one Native life matters, true tribalism dictates that all Native lives matter.
If you have any information regarding the murdered and missing tribal members over the years in South Dakota, families encourage you to come forward and contact authorities or the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Pierre at (605) 224-1331.
(Contact Richie Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org)