Native Hope Awards Three-Year Grant to Fill MMIP Position Ravnsborg Skipped – Dakota Free Press
Killer Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has spent the last year ignoring a 2021 law requiring him to hire a specialist to focus on the problem of missing and murdered Indigenous peoples. His excuse for flouting the law was that his office (which he expanded in 2018 by creating a chief of staff position that costs $118,140.12 a year without seeking additional budget approval) received no funding for the post.
Native Hope, a Chamberlain-based nonprofit, removed that excuse. They’re donating $85,000 a year for three years (28% less than Ravnsborg’s chief of staff’s annual salary) to help the attorney general’s office fulfill its legal mandate to find missing and murdered natives.
“The decision to fund the grant was a logical next step in our commitment to the issue which has been a mainstay of our work for seven years now,” said Native Hope Executive Director Jennifer Long. “When we learned on the news of the office’s funding difficulties, we wanted to break down any barriers that existed. In the work we do with tribal communities, we want to have a positive impact. No more missing sisters. More Aboriginal people missing.
…Like Sacred Heart Center in Eagle Butte, SD, Native Hope is an initiative of St. Joseph’s Indian School. “Native Hope is doing the right thing for our students and their families,” said Mike Tyrell, president of St. Joseph’s Indian School. “Even one missing person is too many. St. Joseph’s students have lost loved ones and family members to this human tragedy.
Some 40% of sex trafficking victims in South Dakota are Indigenous women and children, which is disproportionate to the 8.57% of Indigenous residents. Domestic violence is another contributing factor to MMIP [Native Hope, press release, 2022.02.16].
Native Hope’s Long joined Native lawmakers Troy Heinert, Peri Pourier and Tamara St. John to announce the grant at a press conference in Pierre yesterday. Among the photos available, it seems that Jason Ravnsborg was not present. In its press release, AG Ravnsborg couldn’t even bring itself to acknowledge that Native Hope was providing the money; instead, he chose to lead in the vaguely insulting passive voice:
South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg announced today that in cooperation with St. Joseph’s Indian School and Native Hope, Inc., a grant has been awarded to help fund the Liaison Office for People missing and murdered indigenous people. The grant will provide $85,000 per year for the years 2022 to 2024 [Office of the Attorney General, press release, 2022.02.16].
This passive voice left the door open to Mitchell Republic to distort the source of funds in its original title before correcting the recording an hour later:
Financing public services with private funds is problematic. Waiting for Native Hope or St. Joseph’s Indian School to fund law enforcement to protect Indigenous people is like making rape victims pay for the police and prosecutors to handle their case, or like making arson victims cover the full cost of the fire. trucks to their burning businesses. Jason Ravnsborg didn’t have to spend a year begging for private donors to fund his new chief of staff; why should we rely on private donors to do the actual work required by current law? We passed a law, we should fund the execution of this law.
Representative St. John and Senator Red Dawn Foster are working on it: their Bill 1194 would immediately provide $70,000 to cover the liaison position for one year. But despite the emergency clause on HB 1194, the House judiciary lingered and returned the bill to House appropriations, which in turn balked and returned it to joint appropriations. Native Hope helps us beat that deadline and guarantees a solution longer than what our slow legislators and inattentive AGs have mustered. We should be grateful to Native Hope for taking the plunge; we would be disgusted that they had to.