On December 4th, 2014, representatives from the Lakota People’s Law Project went to Washington D.C. in order to reveal to government officials the gravity of the situation concerning the Lakota tribes of South Dakota.
The Department of Social Services of South Dakota has gone against the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) by illegally taking Lakota children away from their families, tribes, and culture. The DSS place these children predominantly white foster families rather than state-licensed Indian foster families. In fact, only 13 percent of Indian children of South Dakota are placed in Indian care.
Another problem is the fact that many of these children are placed within abusive foster families. The Richard and Gwendolyn Mette Scandal, in which five Indian foster children were sexually abused for ten years, is just one example. Despite evidence of the Mette’s abusive and illegal activities, the state of South Dakota not only dropped the charges against Gwendolyn Mette but gave the children back to her. The scandal was covered up by the DSS between 2001 and 2013.
Human trafficking is another threat to the safety of Indian children in foster care. In 2013, the Chief of Detectives of the State of Minnesota stated that there were over 100,000 children under the age of 15 who were victims of child sexual trafficking. 63 percent of these victims were involuntarily taken into a foster care system, and 40 percent of those victims were Indian.
Pharmaceutical abusive also greatly affects Indian children in the foster care system. The state of South Dakota is given $4,000 when a state foster child is adopted; however, the state receives triple that amount when a special needs child is adopted. 100 percent of Indian children are therefore labeled as “special needs” and many times are given multiple power psychotropics at excessive doses to “modify their behavior.” These drugs cause serious side effects such as extreme depression and thoughts of violence or suicide.
LPLP did an extensive amount of investigation on these issues and presented its findings to government officials in Washington D.C.
LPLP also stressed the need for the Lakota tribes to receive direct federal funding so that they may begin creating their own Child and Family Service Agencies. The U.S. Department of Interior, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Health and Human Services agreed to seek funding and to find a way to obtain supplemental grants to support the five Applicant Lakota Tribes who did not receive grants in 2014.
You can read our investigative research report at the link below: