Native American women go missing at an alarming rate, including a new case from Sioux City

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:21 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - A Winnebago, Nebraska, woman, who disappeared late last week, is now officially in the police database, and a coordinated search is underway.

Thirty-six-year-old Brenda Jean Payer went missing from the McDonald’s parking lot near 7th Street on Oct. 1. On Friday, volunteers from both inside and outside the Native American community mounted a search effort.

A Sioux City Police Department spokesperson says now that she’s in the database, any police agency that comes into contact with her will know she’s missing. Anyone with any information is urged to call the Sioux City Police Department at 712-279-6960.

Payer may have disguised her appearance and is believed to be in a mental crisis. Unfortunately, cases like this, in which a Native American woman goes missing, aren’t uncommon.

It’s something everyone involved in Friday’s search acknowledged. The Bureau of Indian Affairs says there’s “no reliable count” of how many Native women go missing, or are killed, each year.

In fact the question, ‘Have you seen this woman?” is one the Native American community has had to ask all too often.

According to the Federal Government, there are currently more than 4,000 unsolved missing persons cases regarding Native American women. In Brenda’s case, her friends and family say law enforcement has been helpful. But in other cases, a lack of communication has led to cases going unsolved.

“That’s why you have people calling and seeing Brenda is because all of these entities are working together. And that’s what needs to happen every time with every person, indigenous or not, but indigenous people are lacking that right now,” said Inyan Walkingelk, one of Payer’s best friends.

Payer is believed to have left of her own volition, but Terry Medina, a Native American advocate, says Native women are often the victims of human trafficking. According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, no research has been done about violence toward Native women who live in urban areas.

“So they’ve been scouring the community knocking on doors following up on all the leads. So she has been seeing the community which is good. We just want to grab her,” said Medina.

A study by the federal government in 2010 showed Native Americans as a whole were more than twice as likely to be victims of violent crimes.