Mike Rounds is steadfastly opposed to Indian rights

The Lakota People’s Law Office of Rapid City, South Dakota has been asked to provide information relating to the South Dakota citizens that a protest is being mounted at the site of Mike Rounds’ scheduled public press conference this Friday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The press conference will feature conservatives Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who are expected to give their endorsements to former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds for the South Dakota United States Senate Seat being vacated by ailing South Dakota U.S. Senator Tim Johnson.

Daniel Sheehan, the General Counsel for The Lakota People’s Law Office, wishes to inform the people of South Dakota that Michael Rounds’ record during his terms as State Senate Majority Leader and as the Governor of South Dakota graphically demonstrate that Rounds will not represent the interests of the Lakota people of South Dakota if he is elected to the U.S. Senate to replace Tim Johnson.

“Mike Rounds has been steadfastly opposed to the interests of Native peoples in South Dakota,” said Daniel Sheehan. “As State Senate Majority Leader and as the Governor of South Dakota, Michael Rounds first worked extremely closely with the most racially-insensitive administration in the history of South Dakota under then-Governor William Janklow and then headed up his own administration that carried on those same polices. His and William Janklow’s policies were responsible for removing over 7,000 Lakota children from their homes and tribes and forcibly placing those Indian children in non-Native foster care or adoptive settings in open defiance of the federal law.”

Mike Rounds was the State Senate Majority Leader from 1995 to 2000 working closely with his mentor Governor William Janklow who once said that the only way to deal with Indian activists is ‘to put a bullet in their heads.”

And then, as William Janklow’s hand-picked successor as Governor, from 2003 to 2011, Rounds  presided over a period when his and William Janklow’s South Dakota State Department of Social Services was seizing and forcibly removing from their homes and tribe an average of 742 Indian children every year, according to the United States Children’s Bureau.

Rounds appointed Debra Bowman, William Janklow’s “Special Executive Assistant”, to be the Director of the South Dakota State Department of Social Services and, together, Rounds and Bowman falsely claimed that the Federal Adoption & Safe Families Act trumped the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act and they continued to seize Lakota children at an alarming rate — even after the South Dakota Supreme Court issued a ruling in 2005 expressly declaring the Rounds Administration’s Indian child-placement policy to be unlawful.

Rounds and Bowman continued this unlawful policy by drafting and pushing through the Round’s-dominated State Legislature a specific statute granting to the DSS the non-reviewable discretion to refuse to place any children seized by the state with any “relative.”

Mike Rounds then appointed Marty Jackley (who, as the George W. Bush Administration United States Attorney had attempted to prosecute members of the 1973 American Indian Movement for a 35-year-old murder case) to be the South Dakota Attorney General in 2009… so Jackley could continue to pursue members of this Indian movement.

Marty Jackley then presided over the infamous “Mette Rape Scandal Case.”

“The Mette Rape Scandal is the most egregious case of a state cover-up of Indian child sexual abuse in South Dakota’s history,” Daniel Sheehan said. “Anyone associated with that horrendous dereliction of duty should not hold public office.”

The Mette Rape Scandal refers, of course, to the infamous case of Richard Mette, the 325- pound white man who repeatedly raped one, sexually abused two, and then physically abused the other Lakota Indian foster care children for a full decade who had been placed in his care by the Rounds DSS Administration.

Those Indian children cried out, repeatedly, to Rounds’ Department of Social Services, decrying this sexual and physical abuse, but they were steadfastly ignored until a medical doctor recognized the evidence of this abuse and alerted law enforcement authorities.

An Aberdeen Police Department search of Richard & Gwendolyn Mette’s home revealed a “virtual pornography store” and further incriminating evidence of outrageous sexual and physical abuse of these Indian children too outrageous to recount here.

Richard Mette was charged, by local law enforcement authorities in Aberdeen, South Dakota, with 23 felony counts of child sexual abuse and his wife, Wendy Mette, was charged with 11 felony counts predicated on her role as his willful accomplice.

Brandon Taliaferro, the former Brown County Deputy State’s Attorney, was the original State Prosecutor of Richard & Gwendolyn Mette and he vigorously pursued the case against them. However, he was ordered to “back off” that case, as its prosecution threatened to publicly embarrass the DSS at a time when they were under intense investigation by NPR National Public Radio which had just aired a scathing public criticism of the State of South Dakota’s Department of Social Services’ treatment of Indian families and children.

Taliaferro refused to do back down and he was summarily fired – and then he and the State Court-Appointed Child Advocate for these Indian children, Mrs. Shirley Schwab, were falsely charged by Rounds-appointed Attorney General Marty Jackley. The false charges included felony counts of “witness tampering” and “bribery”, that were summarily dismissed by long-time State Court Judge Gene Paul Kean when Marty Jackley’s office failed to present any credible evidence whatsoever to support those utterly false charges.

This led Judge Kean, from the bench, to publicly attribute that utterly false criminal prosecution to “Pierre”….meaning to Marty Jackley and the Governor’s Office.

Moreover, state prosecutors under Marty Jackley then dropped all eleven felony counts against Wendy Mette, then dismissed 22 of the 23 counts against Richard Mette…and attempted to accept a plea from Mette to “One count of spanking.”

But when Indian advocates vigorously protested Richard Mette was allowed, by Marty Jackley, to plea to one felony count (for which he received a sentence that will allow him out within just two years) and the DSS and Jackley then placed those Indian children back in The Mette home with Gwendolyn Mette!

“The Mette Rape Scandal Case epitomizes South Dakota State Attorney General Marty Jackley’s and former state governor Michael Rounds’s approach to Indian people and their issues,” Sheehan said. “Rather than care for the young Indian girls who were being horrendously sexually abused, the state intentionally shielded the white perpetrators of these despicable crimes and attempted to destroy the professional reputations and careers of the only loyal State employees who tried to protect these Indian children. Rounds’ administrators were clearly more interested in covering up clear evidence of the systemic racism displayed toward Indian people than they were in serving justice or upholding the public good.”

It is, of course, entirely up to the people of South Dakota as to whether they wish to be represented in the United States Senate by a person who has made these types of political appointments and who was virtually appointed to his office by one of the most flagrantly racist anti-Native American bigots in American history,” Sheehan concluded. “Our office is simply conveying to the people of South Dakota, at the express request of representatives of the press, what Michael Rounds record reflects concerning his policies and practices with regard to the issue of Indian Rights, which is the specific area of public policy expertise of our office. Our Lakota Peoples Law Office, as a federally-authorized 501(C)(3) public interest law office, takes no position whatsoever as to whether people should, or should not, vote for Michael Rounds as the person to replace Tim Johnson in the United States Senate to represent them in Washington, D.C. It is up to the people of South Dakota to decide what policies and programs they wish to see implemented by our Federal Government toward Indian people.


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