The FBI has released the name of a 5-year-old girl whose body was found Wednesday in a creek on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.
An FBI spokesman said the girl's name is Ariya Huapapi. Meanwhile, Charlie Rooks Funeral Home listed the name as Ariya Josephine Red Elk. The FBI is investigating the death, and the FBI spokesman said no further details would be immediately released.
Ziebach County Sheriff Gary Cudmore said the girl was reported missing around 5 p.m. Tuesday after she had reportedly been playing in Cherry Creek.
Dozens of official and volunteer searchers from local, county, state and tribal entities deployed on foot and on horseback along the banks of the creek, as well as in boats and in an airplane. The search was eventually expanded into the Cheyenne River, of which Cherry Creek is a tributary.
The body was found at about 11:40 a.m. on Wednesday by volunteer searchers who were on a bridge over Cherry Creek, Cudmore said. Two people plunged into the creek to retrieve the body, and authorities converged on the spot, which Cudmore estimated was 25 miles east of Howes, in the area of the Cherry Creek community.
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“They did a prayer over her,” Cudmore said. “Everyone was very respectful of her and respectful of the family members.”
Cudmore said Cherry Creek receives flows from other swollen streams to the west, which contributed in recent days to the creek's rising waters. He estimated that the spot where the body was found was one-half to three-quarters of a mile downstream from where the girl entered the creek.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier issued a statement about the incident via news release Thursday. Frazier commended "the volunteers and tribal agencies that never gave up and searched tirelessly through the night," and he extended specific thanks to the South Dakota Governor’s Office, the state Department of Game, Fish & Parks, and the FBI.
"My heart is with the family that is suffering from the loss of a loved one, and I ask for privacy of the family during this difficult time," Frazier said.