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Native Sun News: Death of Northern Cheyenne woman unsolved

Filed Under: Law | National
More on: bia, crime, fbi, montana, native sun news, northern cheyenne
   

The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.


Hanna Harris pictured here with her then infant son, Jeremiah. Harris went missing on July 4, and was found deceased five days later on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana.

Death of Northern Cheyenne girl unsolved
By Karin Eagle
Native Sun News Staff Writer

LAME DEER, Mont. — A 21 year old Native woman vanished on the Fourth of July on a small Montana reservation. Due to the holiday weekend a search party was not formed by law enforcement. When a search party was finally sent out, they brought her body home.

Hanna Harris, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, had been dead for five days. Now, more than four months later, her devastated family still has no idea who killed Hanna or why.

Having gone out with friends, she failed to contact her family or return that night. Her son was safe at home with family members, which is one of the only positive notes in the story of what happened to Hanna.

"That next day when she didn't come home, somebody called me up and told me her car was at the Muddy Creek area," said Hanna's mom Malinda Harris Limberhand.

With no sign of Hanna and her stranded car, her family began to worry. "We searched for her Saturday, we searched for her Sunday," Limberhand said. "Monday, they finally decided they were going to step in."

It was too late for Hanna.

"I don't know what it is with the justice system here, what's wrong with it or anything but I'm not going to put up with it. I want justice served for my daughter," Limberhand said.

With the FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs silent, the family has taken to the streets in hopes someone will come forward with information.

"I know people might be scared to say something for their own safety but, if you think its right to tell, then you should," said Hanna's cousin Deidre Harris. "Don't hide it back, because you're going to feel really bad about it."

Organizing a walk down Lame Deer's main street every few months, Hanna's family receives tremendous community support. But the walk represents much more than a single story. There are currently 42 unsolved murders on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation alone. Many reservations nationwide report similar statistics.

Given Hanna's death was just over 4 months ago, there is still some hope someone will be charged with this crime. But there is still a fear she will turn into yet another cold case on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

For now, Hanna's family and friends plan to walk in search for justice. Officials with the Northern Cheyenne Tribe also stress the fact that this isn't just an issue on their reservation, but on all of Indian Country.

Hanna’s father, Sam Long Black Cat, Oglala, says that this tragedy and the mystery surrounding the facts of the case has put his life and that of her mother’s on hold, stressing the relationships they are both in. “First of all, no parent should ever have to go through this,” Long Black Cat said. “This loss of a child especially to something so cruel and inhumane like murder; this unknowing is very devastating and mind numbing.”

“We, as parents, have taught Hanna, to be caring and to respect all life. I know Hanna's mother is experiencing tremendous grief. She carried Hanna for 9 months and has done everything a mother can do. “

During the 2013 Oglala Lakota Nation Powwow, Hanna’s parent’s hosted a rally calling for justice in front of the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s headquarters. The purpose of the rally was to remember Hanna and her life, and call attention to the fact that law enforcement was, in the family’s opinion, not responding to the calls for more in depth investigation into what had happened to Hanna.

At that time, the family had two suspects, a male member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and a female member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Calls were made to the BIA police in Pine Ridge to investigate the possibility of both persons being present on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The family voiced disappointment by what they viewed as the lack cooperation by the local law enforcement.

Both the FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs have been involved in the case, but they refuse to release any information because Hanna's case is an ongoing investigation.

The number to contact, if you have any information on Hanna's death is the Northern Cheyenne Police Station at (406) 477-6288.

(Contact Karin Eagle at staffwriter@nsweekly.com) Copyright permission by Native Sun News


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