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Sioux City Native community and law enforcement search for missing woman

A Missing Person poster is tacked to a wall. It pictures Brenda Payer, who went missing last Thursday.
Kendall Crawford
/
IPR
Brenda Payer has not been seen since last Thursday. Her family and friends worry she is in a mental health crisis.

The Native community came together with local law enforcement in Sioux City to search for Brenda Payer on Friday.

Brenda Payer has been missing since last week. Authorities are asking those with information on her whereabouts to come forward.
Sioux City Police Department
Brenda Payer has been missing since last week. Authorities are asking those with information on her whereabouts to come forward.

The 36-year-old Indigneous woman was last seen by her friends and family last Thursday. Since then, her loved ones have been unable to get in contact with her. The Sioux City Police Department does not suspect foul play, but there is concern that Payer may be in a mental health crisis.

Payer’s friend, Inyan Walking Elk, said she’s heartbroken to be searching for her friend. She said it hits hard, especially after years of hearing other stories of missing Indigenous women.

“I always thought I never want one of us to be there and never want to have to do that. I never want to be in that position,” Walking Elk said. “So it sucks. There's no other way to say it. I want to get us out of this position as soon as we can. I want to find Brenda.”

The National Crime Information Center reported that 5,203 Indigenous women and girls went missing last year – an endemic known as the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) health crisis.

Community policing sergeant Jeremy McClure said the department is taking the missing person case very seriously and allocating community resources to finding Payer.

“Especially with the issues that our Indigenous communities have faced in the past, we want to not only tell them what we're doing, but show them the concern that we have and the dedication that we have to them,” he said.

Community Native advocate for Siouxland Human Investment Partnerships, Terry Medina, applauded local law enforcement for their efforts to find Payer and work with Native communities.

“Everyone has come together for compassion and love for the people,” Medina said. “It doesn't matter what color we are, what language we speak. As fathers and mothers, we protect our children, we provide for our children, we're going to rescue our children when in need.”

Anyone with information on Payer's whereabouts is encouraged to contact the Sioux City police department at 279-6960.

Kendall is Iowa Public Radio’s western Iowa reporter based in Sioux City, IA.