Roughly 70 people gathered in Lame Deer Wednesday on what would’ve been Henny Scott’s fifteenth birthday.
Scott’s body was found late last month near 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.
At the march, people rang bells and hollered. One banged a ladle against a metal bowl. Marchers also wore red to represent Scott and Native American girls like her who have gone missing.
Organizer Dean Wallowing Bull said one thing they want is a faster response from law enforcement when members of the community report someone missing. If they can’t have that, he said they’ll organize and do it themselves.
“I see a community Facebook page created with volunteers that will spread out and knock on doors and visit with friends and associates and the last known hangout places of where they were, the missing people, and each time the person goes missing, we start looking for them within 24 hours,” said Wallowing Bull.
Other marchers talked about possible solutions from within the community.
Debbie Charette 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,” said Charette. “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, said 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 intertribal basis,” said Sleeper. “We need to be working among all tribes to address the issues that contribute to missing and murdered indigenous people.”
March organizer Dean Wallowing Bull said this is the second of four planned marches to keep up the level of awareness about missing indigenous people and about Henny Scott. He said one will be scheduled for when it gets warmer.
However, Wednesday was special, because it would have been Scott’s fifteenth birthday.
To honor her, marchers stop near the street leading up to her neighborhood and sing happy birthday.
Wallowing Bull says the next march is tentatively set for Valentine’s Day.