In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Delema Lou Sits Poor, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared in 1974 from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. She’s of Oglala Sioux heritage and her nickname in 1974 was Babe.
Pine Ridge is one of the poorest places in the entire U.S. and has numerous other socioeconomic problems. To quote from Wikipedia:
The population of Pine Ridge suffer health conditions, including high mortality rates, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, malnutrition and diabetes, among others. Reservation access to health care is limited compared to urban areas, and it is not sufficient. Unemployment on the reservation hovers between 80% and 85%, and 49% of the population live below the federal poverty level. Many of the families have no electricity, telephone, running water, or sewage systems; and many use wood stoves to heat their homes, depleting limited wood resources.
The exact date of Delema’s disappearance is no longer known with just uncertainty, just sometime in February that year. She reportedly disappeared while walking “on a back road Oglala to Manderson” in subzero temperatures. You might wonder how they know the temperature at the time she disappeared but not the date, but my guess that just about EVERY day in February in Pine Ridge, North Dakota is subzero.
According to Google Maps, there are two routes you can drive between Manderson and Oglala; one is shorter in distance, 23.5 miles, but takes an hour, and the 40.2 mile roundabout way is shorter to drive. Either one is a VERY significant distance for a child to walk in subzero temperatures. Why was she out that day? Was she running away from something, or to something?
It’s extremely sad that a twelve-year-old girl’s disappearance seems to have been forgotten about by the authorities, but it doesn’t surprise me all that much. The situation of missing and murdered indigenous women has only recently become a topic attracting national attention.