SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – It’s 20 minutes past 9 a.m. Thursday at Washington High School but more than 50 students are taking their education into their own hands outside of the classroom. The subject? Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women.

“The main point of today is to spread awareness but hopefully to spark change,” senior Justus Knorr said.

The group took their walkout down the street to Linwood Park where organizers gave statistics on the MMIW epidemic and shared stories on how it impacts them.

“Our tomorrow is being stolen from us,” senior Emma Eagle Star said during her speech.

Through multiple moments of silence, organizers hoped their fellow students could honor the thousands of Native American women and children who have gone missing, been abused or even killed.

“I want them to be humanized and I want them to be recognized because each of those people mattered,” senior Maliyah Cartier said.

“They’re being ignored by the country as a whole. And that’s not to single anybody out, I’m not attacking anybody. It’s not one person’s fault, it’s as a collective. It’s a societal issue,” Knorr said.

More than 50 high schoolers gathered with a hope that the younger generations can step up and make a change.

“I just want it to stop here and now so then it doesn’t continue to occur,” Eagle Star said. “So then we can strive and we can continue to make things better because we are the future of America. How is the future of America supposed to be good if we’re even afraid to walk down the street.”

“You have to do something, you have to break the rules a little bit to change, to make change and to actually make a difference,” junior Rosalia Szameit said.

Right now on the South Dakota Missing Persons Clearinghouse, 80 of the 122 total current missing people are American Indian or Alaska Native. But many MMIP cases go unreported.

To learn more about the epidemic and hear from families who have lost loved ones, visit our MMIP in South Dakota page right here on our website.