Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty/Handout
A high-pitched song—a wail of pain and longing—sounded through the hot, dark air outside of Brookings, South Dakota, Monday night.
It was a cry for a peaceful journey to the spirit world for Kyla “Kyla Jo” Mercy Red Bear, a 25-year-old Native American woman who disappeared earlier this month. Red Bear’s body was found in a wooded area on Aug. 8, six days after she was last heard from.
The Monday night vigil was held near the spot where Red Bear’s body was found. Brookings, the home of South Dakota State University, the largest college in the Dakotas, is one of the most diverse towns in the state, and the crowd of more than 100 people reflected that. Native Americans from tribes across the state were joined by white and Black people who call Brookings home.