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2017-08-10 / Front Page

Native Hope Raises Awareness At Sturgis Sex Trafficking Common At Rally

BY BRANDON ECOFFEY
LCT EDITOR


Kansas Middletent, a Lower Brule tribal citizen is one of the ambassadors, comes from the Middletent Family and the Spotted Hawk Family. Kansas Middletent, a Lower Brule tribal citizen is one of the ambassadors, comes from the Middletent Family and the Spotted Hawk Family. RAPID CITY – Last week, one tribal citizen, who is now the face of a major organization, took to the streets in Sturgis, SD, to spread awareness about human trafficking.

Each year, tens of thousands of people flock to the tiny town of Sturgis, SD, to take in the annual motorcycle rally. The rally that has now been in existence for close to eight-decades is one of the largest events to take place in South Dakota. Although efforts have been made to make the event more family friendly, there are still many crimes that take place during this time of year.

One serious issue that has come to light in recent years is the high-rate of human trafficking that occurs. What most people do not know however is that Native American women are more likely to fall victim to this trade than others.

South Dakota has had the highest rate of human trafficking arrests of any state, according to Native Hope. The organization is a non-profit that is now serving Indian Country in the hopes of preventing suicide and improving the lives of Native people. The statistics also show that 40% of all sex trafficking victims in South Dakota are Native American children between the ages of 12 and 15.

While these numbers are quite staggering, the prevalence of this crime has mostly stayed under the radar.

The lack of awareness about the issue has inspired Native Hope to recruit the likes of Kansas Middletent, a Lower Brule tribal citizen, to be one of its ambassadors. Kansas is an enrolled member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. He comes from the Middletent Family and the Spotted Hawk Family.

In the hopes of bringing the issue to light, Middletent and Native Hope took to the streets of Sturgis to help inform the public.

“We put posters up in every bathroom and we tried to hand out as much information as possible about human trafficking,” said Middletent.

“There were some people who didn’t want to talk to us, but when we asked them if they might have had daughters and sisters they changed,” he said.

The information provided by Native Hope to the public included which signs to look for that may indicate that someone is a victim of human trafficking, as well as statistics about the crime.

For more information about Native Hope please visit their website at Nativehope.com.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at editor@lakotacountrytimes.com)

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