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Lakota Country Times: Missing Oglala Sioux woman found dead

Emily Blue Bird. Photo by Carla Cheyenne

Missing Oglala Lakota woman found dead
By Natalie Hand
Lakota Country Times Correspondent

PINE RIDGE—Tragic news spread across the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on January 21 with the discovery of a young woman’s body, who had been missing since January 2, 2016.

The body of Emily Blue Bird, 24, of Pine Ridge Village, was found in a heavily wooded area on the east end of the community, according to Bureau of Indian Affairs Law Enforcement officials.

“BIA Agents received information and conducted a subsequent interview and agents began searching along with a local search team consisting of tribal members.” Stated Nedra Darling, Spokeswoman, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs-DOI.

Community members noticed Federal SUV’s converging on an area on the east end of Pine Ridge Village Wednesday evening and the following morning. 

Members of the AIM Grassroots search party standing guard near the crime scene on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, awaiting removal of victim’s body. Photo by Natalie Hand

“They were just sitting in their units.  Sometimes they got out and stood along the banks of the creek.  Never once did one of those BIA CI’s go into the trees or the creek.” Stated Carla Lisa Cheyenne, aunt of the deceased victim.

Frustrated by slow response from local law enforcement, the Blue Bird family called upon the AIM Grassroots Chapter of the American Indian Movement to organize a search party, after a family member received an anonymous tip of her possible location.

Tom Cheyenne and Guy Dull Knife of AIM Grassroots responded quickly to the family’s request.  A member of the AIM search party found the body within a very short time.

“Our family would like to thank Lil’ Joe Hornbeck for his tracking skills.  He found our niece within minutes,” added Cheyenne. Blue Bird, a mother of two, was last seen outside her mother’s residence on January 2nd.

Bureau of Indian Affairs criminal investigators near the crime scene on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo by Natalie Hand

Cheyenne launched an exhaustive search for her niece over the last three weeks, reaching out on social media for anyone to help in locating Blue Bird.  She filed a missing person’s report with the Oglala Sioux Department of Public Safety on January 6, 2016 and filed with the BIA Criminal Investigation Unit on January 8th.

An autopsy was performed and results are pending.  Two suspects were arraigned on Monday, January 25, 2016, in Oglala Sioux Tribal Court.  Elizabeth LeBeau, Pine Ridge, has been charged with 1st Degree Assault (OST Law & Order Code 201) and Criminal Conspiracy (OST Law & Order Code 302) and is being held on a $4,000 bond.  Fred Quiver, also of Pine Ridge, was charged with Obstruction of Justice (OST Law & Order Code 428) and Criminal Conspiracy (OST Law & Order Code 302) and is being held on a $2,000 bond.  Both are scheduled for pre-trial hearings on March 1, 2016.

“Please keep in mind that these are initial charges while the investigation continues.  We may amend the complaints if the investigation provides additional information and evidence.” stated Tate’ Win Means, Attorney General of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Blue Bird’s family does not rule out that others may be involved in her death.

“This is the extent of the information we are able to share with the public at this time.” stated Nedra Darling.

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Meanwhile, Oglala Lakota community leaders organized an event to honor Blue Bird and all missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.  On Wednesday, January 27th at 1:30 p.m., women were asked to meet at the Sioux Funeral Home in Pine Ridge and those in attendance helped escort Blue Bird’s body to the Billy Mills Hall for the start of a two-night wake and funeral to be held there.

“A candlelight vigil for Emily and all women who are victims of violence was held on Wednesday, January 27th at 5:30 p.m.” noted community leader Yvonne “Tiny” DeCory. According to DeCory those gathered walked to the site where Blue Bird was found dead and a candlelight vigil was held. From there the group proceeded to Billy Mills Hall. DeCory thanked the OST Domestic Violence Program for their help with the vigil.

A two-night wake service was held and funeral services took place on Friday, January 29, 2016, at the Billy Mills Hall.  Burial was at Porcupine Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Porcupine, SD.

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