Roughly 70 people gathered in Lame Deer Wednesday on what would’ve been Henny Scott’s 15th birthday.
Scott’s body was found late last month just outside her community on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in southeastern Montana. She is one of many indigenous women and girls who have gone missing across North America in recent years.
Marchers ring bells and holler. One bangs on a metal bowl. And people wear red to represent Scott and Native American girls like her who have gone missing.
Organizer Dean Wallowing Bull says one thing they want is a faster response from law enforcement when members of the community report someone missing. And if they can’t have that, he says they’ll organize and do it themselves.
"I see like a community Facebook page created with volunteers that will spread out and knock on doors and visit with friends and visit associates and the last known hang out places of where they were, the missing people, and each time the person goes missing, we start looking for them within 24 hours.”
Other marchers talk about possible solutions from within the community.
Debbie Charrette sits on the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council and believes children need adults they can confide in.
“We’re hoping to put in some kind of system where if it’s the younger people like this, that they’ll be able to contact somebody. We need to build that trust between the older generation and the younger one. We need to build that trust with the youth that if there’s something out there that’s going on, they need to have somewhere where they can go that they trust to speak to somebody.”
Marchers want to see unity in other ways, too. Charlene Sleeper, who’s Southern Cheyenne, Arapaho and Crow, says she drove from Billings to take part.
“For me, personally, it’s because this issue is intertribal and it needs to be addressed on an inter-tribal basis. We need to be working between among all tribes to address the issues that contribute to missing and murdered indigenous people.”
March organizer Dean Wallowing Bull says this is the second of four planned marches to keep up the level of awareness about missing indigenous people and about Henny Scott. He says one will be scheduled for when it gets warmer.
However, Wednesday was special, because it would have been Scott’s 15th birthday. To honor her, marchers stop near the street leading up to her neighborhood and sing.
Wallowing Bull says the next march is tentatively set for Valentine’s Day.