LAME DEER — Deanna Limberhand is one of the many indigenous women in Montana who have either been murdered or are currently missing. Her family is still looking for answers and they’re hoping a new website from the Bureau of Indian Affairs might help find Deanna’s murderer.
“When I hear her favorite song, it’s like it’s just now hitting me,” said her mother, Darlene Faye Limberhand on Monday.
It’s been six months since Darlene lost her daughter. Deanna’s body was found in the Stillwater River near Absarokee.
Though the cause of Deanna’s death was listed as drowning, her family believes that she was murdered.
“We also heard that she was tied, that they hogtied her, and then she was beaten with a bat,” Darlene said.
Deanna was an outgoing mother of three who relished the time she spent with her family.
“You know, she likes to visit. She likes to visit, she liked to spend time with her friends, she liked to do things that were outgoing,” said her aunt Rynalea Whiteman Pena.
Pena describes her niece as a kindhearted woman with a lot of love. Sadly, the story of Deanna’s death is one that many Native Americans are all too familiar with.
A significant portion of missing and murdered cases in Montana are those of indigenous people, and the victims are mostly women.
“It’s an epidemic and it’s been going on for decades,” said Department of Interior Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Bryan Newland.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has launched a new website to raise awareness about this epidemic. The website works as a hotline where people can submit tips on cases of missing and murdered indigenous people.
“Part of the problem is that we don’t always have the best data of the full size and scope of this problem,” Newland said.
Newland hopes this website will connect the public with the BIA and other law enforcement agencies like the FBI and the Department of Justice.
“By linking this up, this will allow us to share information more easily and help solve these cases and bring closure to families who need it,” said Newland.
Deanna’s family says that this is a step in the right direction, but they’re still frustrated with the response from law enforcement.
“Law enforcement responding to it is very weak. I do believe she’s been pushed to the side,” Pena said.
The family believes there’s more to be done.
“There needs to be more awareness,” Darlene said.
To submit a tip to the BIA website, visit Missing and Murdered Indigenous People | Indian Affairs (bia.gov).