BISMARCK, N.D. — A Monday search of the Porcupine area for Kara Lynn Mauai turned up new evidence that might help track down the missing Standing Rock woman two months after her disappearance.
"There were some clothes that were found in Porcupine near a FEMA trailer," family spokeswoman Sheridan McNeil said, referring to Federal Emergency Management Agency mobile homes donated from disaster sites for use as tribal housing. "The clothes were confirmed to be Kara's."
The clothes were taken by Bureau of Indian Affairs police for further testing, McNeil said.
About 35 volunteers on foot helped search the Porcupine area, according to McNeil.
The discovery of the clothes comes nearly two months after Mauai, 30, of Fort Yates, was last seen in the Selfridge area on Nov. 8.
The circumstances surrounding her disappearance and whether a crime might be involved aren't clear. McNeil has declined to discuss circumstances. The BIA and Standing Rock Emergency Manager Elliot Ward also have declined comment.
A search of Selfridge and its outlying areas Saturday drew the help of more than 30 volunteers but did not result in any leads or signs of Mauai, according to McNeil. The Porcupine area searched Monday is about 20 miles from Selfridge.
The search party formed after concerned community members met with Mauai's family on New Year's Day to offer help. Shortly after, the family met with tribal officials, BIA Police Chief Sparky Edwards and Sioux County Sheriff Frank Landeis, along with a representative from the state's Indian Affairs Commission by phone, to talk about what to do next.
"Everyone kind of gave us the thumbs up to do this organized and collaborative search," McNeil said.
Elliot Ward, emergency manager for Standing Rock, has been heading up the search and is providing training on search techniques and protocols for volunteers before they go out.
The family has been working with tribal officials, and area law enforcement and has consulted with the state's Indian Affairs Commission.
Neither McNeil nor BIA officials would comment on whether foul play is suspected in Mauai's disappearance.
Mauai is described as a 5-foot-2-inch, 130-pound Native American woman with brown eyes and dark curly hair. She has a star tattooed on the inside of her left wrist and the name "Ikaika" on her right. The mother of three is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
A Facebook page titled "Bring Kara Home" with more than 1,500 followers is the official page being used by the family to share information about Mauai and the search. Anyone with any information on Mauai's disappearance or whereabouts is asked to contact BIA police at 701-854-7241.
Understand it better: Our stories on the missing and murdered indigenous people crisis
The Billings Gazette has continued to examine one of the most urgent issues in Montana and our region — missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
In Montana, Native Americans are just 6.7% of the total population, but make up 26% of missing persons cases.
The problem has persisted for generations, and many of the cases remain unsolved. The causes are numerous and complex, and any lasting solutions have been elusive.
The Gazette is exploring the reasons the crisis has persisted and what can be done about it.
And, we need your help. We welcome your tips, suggestions and feedback at billingsgazette.com/mmiwtips.
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