Family members seek justice and accountability for recent murders on the Rosebud Reservation

I am going to devote several columns to the fact that violence is extremely prevalent on the Rosebud Reservation. We need our law enforcement and tribal government to step up and increase efforts being made to afford us all a safer community. What are your ideas? Please email me at

Thank you and please be safe, Vi Waln


Dear News Outlet,

I wanted to tell you about my uncles murder (Ben Clifford) that occurred a few weeks ago near Saint Francis, SD (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) and Calvin Kills in Water, Jr. who was also murdered alongside Ben (who was dedicated to his young son he left behind).
We are a caring, loving, hardworking extended family. Ben for many years worked at the Iowa Beef Processing plant and was since retired and moved to White River, but was still helping with the RST Ambulance Service who gave Ben a certificate of appreciation and attended his funeral. Ben would attend my soccer games in Sioux City and bring a package of hamburger that he could get at a discount. Ben used to spend time with Leonard Crow Dog’s parents. Leonard Crow Dog spoke at Ben’s funeral about Ben, about Leonard’s own son who was murdered, and about how difficult it is to live as an elder in the increasingly violent neighborhoods.
After the funeral, we had a family meeting. Ben’s brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren, nieces and nephew met, to discuss the investigation and arraignment this Wednesday (January 15) in Pierre, SD of the people who committed the crime.
This is not a straightforward case, because it took the legwork of Ben’s daughter and son-in-law to get us this far and lots of opportunities to collect evidence was botched.
The people involved were not just one-time offenders by accident, but violent people with a criminal history and Ben trusted he could give them a ride because he is an elder and thought that would mean something according to the way he was brought up.
As family members, there is only so much we can do because we drove from across the Midwest to attend the funeral, but we are going to help support the family nearby who can travel to Pierre and represent us in bringing a voice for Ben and his family. This is not like Chicago where the courthouse is a short drive away.
I am calling the news outlets. My mother (Sarah Clifford) and other family members will be there this Wednesday. We want to see if we can help bring attention to this crime and make sure the criminals responsible do not fall through the cracks because of apathy from the tribal and federal judicial systems and public safety systems.
At the meeting, we discussed how we want (1) justice, and (2) accountability by the public safety and judicial systems in pursuing this crime and (3) safer communities particularly for our elderly who are afraid to travel by themselves – just to go to the post office for example.
I am not really the best person who can give all the details, but I can direct you to all the family members who were at the meeting who can help answer questions for any reporter who wants to help us keep a spotlight on this crime and the circumstances surrounding it both before and after.
Best wishes,

Published by Vi Waln


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