The murders of three Navajo men more than 30 years ago still generates strong sentiments among residents of Farmington, New Mexico.
Dodge Benally, 34, John Earl Harvey, 39, and David Ignacio, 52, were brutally beaten and left in the hills. Authorities said the men were intentionally tortured.
Three teenage white boys were charged with murdering the men. They were accused of “rolling” Indians, a reportedly common practice in the Four Corners. Some non-Indians deny the practice exists.
Throughout the ordeal, Navajos staged peaceful protests in Farmington. But when the boys were sent to a reform school instead of being treated as adults, tensions erupted when tribal members sought to hold a protest march the next day but were denied a permit.
This always reminds us that there have been more than 11 unexplained and unsolved murders right here in Rapid City since 1998. Most of the men killed were Native Americans. There was Ben Long Wolf, age 36, George Hatton, age 56, Allen Hough, age 42, Royce Yellow Hawk, age 26, Randell Two Crow, age 48, Lauren Two Bulls, age 33, Dirk Bartling, age 44, Arthur Chamberlain, age 45, Timothy Bull Bear Sr., age 47, Lonnie Isham, age 43, and Wilbur G. Johnson, age 41 and there have been a couple of more who are not on this list.
We need to organize and find out why none of these murders have been solved. Could it be that these men were killed by white teenage boys just like the murders in New Mexico? If so the killers have probably grown up, gone to college, and got on with their lives. There is a strong probability that these murders will never be solved. What does that tell us about Rapid City’s law enforcement?
There is something seriously wrong with this picture. Surely with all of the investigative tools now available to law enforcement a greater effort could have been made to further investigate and solve these heinous crimes.
The families of these murdered men are still waiting for justice and closure. There is not a day goes by when they do not think of the loved ones they lost. And they are still looking for answers. How could so many Native American men be murdered in such a short time and no evidence left to explain their murders. Maybe the leaders of South Dakota’s 9 tribes need to get together and hire their own team of investigators to solve the murders of their citizens. It is high time that something be done and the time is now.
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