via KSFY News
"We have no funding for 2016," says Sue McComber, coordinator of the Mita Maske Ti Ki (My Sister Friend's House) domestic violence shelter in Sioux Falls, SD, that offers services uniquely tailored to Native women.

Funding Cut: Sioux Falls Mita Maske Ti Ki Violence Shelter Could Close

Mary Annette Pember

My Sister Friend’s House—Mita Maske Ti Ki, in the Lakota language—has sheltered Native and non-Native victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking since 2000.  However “Mita,” as it is known, may have to close by April 2016—though it could be as early as January.

The 12-bed shelter in Sioux Falls, South Dakota failed to win a much-needed competitive grant that it has depended on for years in the past.

“There was too much competition for the grant this year,” shelter coordinator Sue McComber told the Argus Leader.

Mita’s closing would leave Sioux Falls with only one other shelter to serve the growing number of victims of domestic violence, the Children’s Inn. Although both Mita and the Children’s Inn serve all victims, Mita offers culturally sensitive programming for women of color, specifically Native women, said Lisa Heth, executive director of Wiconi Wawokiya.

Mita is a satellite shelter under the umbrella of services offered by Wiconi Wawokiya, “Helping Families,” is a nonprofit victim’s services organization located on the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota.

“Women who come to Mita have the option to attend inipi,” Heth said. “The other shelter does not offer this service.”

Mita also allows women to stay at the shelter for longer than 30 days. Many women, especially victims of sex trafficking, may need services and shelter for longer than the typical 30-day stay offered by most shelters, according to Heth.

“Native women sometimes come to the shelter in Sioux Falls to flee their reservation based abuser,” she said. “If they are told to leave, they have no option but to return to their reservations, where they may once again be victimized.”

According to statistics from Wiconi Wawokiya, Mita provided 55 adults and 38 children with shelter from October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015. Fourteen of those women were victims of sex trafficking. The shelter needs $12,000 a month to run, according to KSFY News. 

Shelter coordinators have established a GoFundMe account for those who would like to help.

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