Patina Park (Cheyenne River Lakota) is the state’s new, first-time Director of the Tribal State Relations Systems Implementation. When the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force report was finished in December 2020, she was impressed at the swift response to making Task Force suggestions a priority in the governor’s budget proposal.
The proposal, delivered to the legislature on January 26, includes $500,000 annually for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to establish and maintain an office dedicated to preventing and ending the targeting of Indigenous women, children, and two-spirit people as highlighted in the MMIW Task Force report. The budget suggests one-time funding of $2.5 million to combat sex trafficking.
Park says the MMIW office is key, “so that the work can continue, for implementation, for monitoring how recommendations are rolling out, coordinating with state and federal agencies, and making sure individuals impacted maintain a voice within the process.”
There can be an overwhelming number of issues that need attention, and funding: improving child welfare systems to reduce runaway situations, funding for victims of domestic violence, and understanding the root causes of trafficking.
“Pick an area [to get involved in],” Park says. “Learn more about the root causes of MMIR or sex trafficking. Be there for those who are impacted. Get involved with an organization as an advocate. Work on improving data gathering. Support trauma-informed services. We need it all.