The Lakota People’s Law Project was featured in an NPR report about a landmark legal case that found South Dakota officials have been systematically violating the rights of Indian families in the state.
Essentially, the court case is a validation of our work that has been ongoing since we first learned the state was seizing Lakota children at alarming rates and placing them in white foster care homes despite the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 mandating them to make active efforts to place Indian children with extended families or their native tribes.
The judge ruled that state judges, members of the South Dakota Department of Social Services and state attorneys conspired to deprive Indian families of their rights under ICWA and their constitutional rights. It’s crucial to understand that while ICWA gives Native Americans special consideration under the law when it comes to child removal cases, the judge ruled that their rights as basic Americans were also violated by the state of South Dakota.
“Indian parents deserve better,” the judge wrote in his scathing decision.
The judge also stayed his order, essentially saying that the state institutions responsible for repeated and widespread violations of ICWA must be under federal supervision going forward. This represents a huge victory for the Lakota tribes and for our small nonprofit that has been fighting long and hard to rectify this situation.
To read our press release go here.
To read and listen to the NPR story go here.
The Rapid City Journal also mentioned us here.
We will continue to fight to find solutions to the problem that is becoming harder and harder for officials in South Dakota to deny or ignore. It is important to note that any positive practical solution will involve stripping the state of South Dakota of their authority to determine the fate of Indian children and providing the tribes with more sovereignty.
Learn how you can help by visiting lakotalaw.org.
You can donate to the cause here.