Native Hope took their #NeverInSeason (NeverInSeason.org) campaign to the streets this past weekend to raise awareness of increased sex trafficking during hunting season in South Dakota. With the campaign’s message already reaching more than 35,000 people via social media, they enlisted a team of volunteers to spread awareness face to face as the state geared up for its annual pheasant season opener.
Volunteers passed out flyers, took part in the #RedSandProject, and spoke with hunters, business owners, and members of various communities in hopes to alert people about this serious issue and the signs of suspicious activity to be on the lookout for.
Native Hope joined forces with local groups throughout South Dakota, including convention and visitors bureaus, community organizations, and local media, and they also advertised in the state’s largest airport, Sioux Falls Regional Airport. Local hunting lodges and hotels, concerned about trafficking taking place on their premises, are also collaborating with Native Hope to prevent sex trafficking.
“We have [four] of the highest poverty areas in the country,” said Julie Muldoon, Director of Native Hope, in an article on LifeZette. “When you come into an area where maybe the young women don’t really understand what love or attention is, and they don’t see any hope for their future—that’s where it starts. Then someone comes in and says, ‘I can give you shelter; I can give you food,’ and already they’re stuck in this situation. Sex trafficking of young Native American girls is a real issue here in South Dakota. Our goal is to help raise awareness, as well as to fund programs that offer girls the support they desperately need."
Native Hope is excited to be part of a large movement taking place across the country. Many law enforcement officials, including agents with Sioux Falls Street Crimes, DCI, FBI, and Homeland Security are coordinating their efforts with the FBI’s 10th annual nationwide Operation Cross Country. The operation is dedicated to targeting child sex traffickers and working to find human trafficking victims across the country.
Sioux Falls officials were able to apprehend a 20-year-old woman who was soliciting sex for herself and a 15-year-old in exchange for money. This is on the cusp of the recent arrest of a prominent Sioux Falls doctor with intent of sex trafficking a minor.
“Child sex traffickers exploit our kids and crush their hopes, their self-esteem, and their futures. They're never the same after being trafficked. Our most important job is to recover them and ensure they have resources moving forward,” said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers. “Thanks to our many partners for their collaborative efforts last week, because of their commitment to this operation, many children now have a chance for a better life.”
Native Hope can’t end sex trafficking alone. We need your help. Please consider partnering with us against sex trafficking of Native Americans. Together, we can end it!
Native Hope’s partners and programs are well-established on South Dakota’s Indian Reservations. Services provided by funding these programs through Native Hope include:
- Safe housing for women and children
- 24-hour crisis line for victims
- Empowerment training for young Native American girls
- Domestic and sexual violence prevention and education
- Counseling and support groups for victims
Consider giving a gift to fund these essential programs. 100% of your donation goes directly to these life-changing services. Together, we can make a difference.