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'There is no justice right now': LaFontaine-Greywind family and supporters march for indigenous women

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Joe Greywind, center, is flanked by his daughter, Kayla, and wife, Norberta, during the March for Justice in downtown Fargo Thursday, Oct. 11. Greywind said the family is angry two weeks after William Hoehn was acquitted of conspiring to murder his 22-year-old daughter, Savanna, who was eighth months pregnant with her first child. Kim Hyatt / Forum News Service2 / 4
Marchers for missing and murdered indigenous women walk along Broadway on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in downtown Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service3 / 4
Marchers for missing and murdered indigenous women gather Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in downtown Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service4 / 4

FARGO — In delivering a forceful message on behalf of his family, the father of slain Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind said he was angry with law enforcement and the legal system for acquitting a co-defendant in his daughter's murder.

"She didn't deserve this, neither did Haisley (LaFontaine-Greywind's daughter)," said Joe Greywind, flanked by his wife, Norberta, and daughter, Kayla.

His breath lingered in the cold air with a "March for Justice" banner as the backdrop.

In raising awareness of missing and murdered indigenous women, the march for LaFontaine-Greywind and other Native American women took place in downtown Fargo Thursday, Oct. 11.

Thursday marked the birthday of Olivia Lone Bear, a 32-year-old mother of five from New Town who disappeared last October. Her body was found in a submerged truck in August, but the circumstances surrounding her death are still unknown.

More than 50 people wearing red to symbolize the missing and murdered indigenous women movement marched down Broadway Thursday evening to the beat of a deerskin drum. Mothers walked while holding their children's hands and others carried signs that said "We are our sister's voices," and "Not forgotten."

Supporters of the Greywind family gathered outside the depot building along Main Avenue before marching. There, elders were singing and praying for togetherness and hope among clouds of burning sage.

Sharon White Bear, chairwoman of the city of Fargo's Native American Commission, greeted the crowd there for all missing and murdered indigenous women and specifically for the "big injustice that happened here."

LaFontaine-Greywind, 22, was eight months pregnant when she went missing last August. Brooke Crews, 39, is serving a life sentence for conspiring to murder LaFontaine-Greywind and kidnap her baby. On Sept. 28, a jury found William Hoehn, 33, not guilty of conspiring to murder. He had already pleaded guilty to lying to police and conspiracy to commit kidnapping. His sentencing date has yet to be set.

"Me and my family are mad," Joe Greywind said. "We're mad at the community, we're mad at the jurors, we're mad at police. We're mad. This ain't right. This is all common sense right here. It's common sense what these guys did. And for him (Hoehn) to get off? That's bull s— — —."

Greywind continued: "Me and all of my family are pissed off — for any other missing and murdered indigenous women, it's bad. This is bad. For a not guilty plea to come back? Get the hell out of here. ... That's how we feel."

White Bear said she wouldn't say the names of those charged with LaFontaine-Greywind's murder, but had a message for them.

"Every time you put water on your face or take a scoop of water to put to your mouth, remember you have blood on your hands. Don't' forget that," she said. "Every morning you are going to know that. Those are the hands that have blood on them. There is no justice right now."

During the march, Jacqueline Harris wore a backpack with the words "Strong. Resilient. Indigenous."

"We are walking for our women, our missing and murdered indigenous women. Our ancestors and the next generation," Harris said. "There are hundred of missing and murdered indigenous women all over the United States and Canada. It's scary. It's an epidemic. It needs to be fixed.

Native people are still here and we're not going to give up on this problem."

The murder rate of indigenous woman is 10 times the national average, according to the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women. Four in five indigenous women are affected by violence today.

Ruth Buffalo, a Democratic candidate for District 27 in the state House of Representatives, said Thursday's march was about preventing violence against indigenous women here and in all communities.

"It's good to come together in prayer and song to show support for the (Greywind) family. They are still grieving" she said.

Despite the heartache in the Greywind family and other indigenous families still searching for loved ones, White Bear wanted to leave the demonstration with a glimmering of hope.

"It just takes one of us to help. We all matter in the circle of life," she said. "I want to give you some hope, so we can have hope for our lives and our sisters and girls."

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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