Saturday, May 16, 2015

Report: seizing American Indian kids for federal cash is racial bias

South Dakota's experiment with a GOP-dominated congressional delegation and Statehouse has failed so many generations that to some suicide looks like the only way out of lives twisted by a special brand of torture.
A new report from the Lakota People's Law Project is once again calling attention to what it says are racial biases in South Dakota when it comes to violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act in the state. Project staff attorney Chase Iron Eyes says the report will be given to the heads of federal agencies in an attempt to not let the issues die. Iron Eyes says Native American children are an economic development resource in South Dakota. The report cites what it calls conflicts of interests and corruption in state government in connection with $63 million in federal funds the state gets by caring for Native American children in the state.
Read it here.

The Lakota People's Law Project is seeking funding for foster families and homes after SD Department of Social Services employees in Rapid City committed abuses of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The state seizes about 750 American Indian kids every year reaping nearly a billion federal dollars since ICWA was enacted.

South Dakota's long history of racism is glaring under the media microscope. From South Dakota Public Broadcasting:
In the early 20th century, hundreds of Native Americans from tribes around the country were sent the Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians. Located in Canton, South Dakota, the institution wasn’t so much a place to treat people with mental health problems as a place for Native Americans who refused to assimilate in white society. [Karl Gehrke]
The Guardian published a long piece on the thousands of American Indian children who haved been seized by South Dakota's Department of Social Services especially in Pennington County.
Janice Howe’s tiny home, nested in a sparse enclave of houses, is a warm haven against the winter chill. “They take children away [from families] because there’s no food in the house so I find a way to help them get food, keep their lights on, get their rent paid,” she says. “I remember that heartache. I don’t want any other families to go through that.” n South Dakota, where Howe lives, 51% of children in foster care are Native American. A majority of them were removed from their families on charges of neglect. It is hard for the families to keep fighting. Often it takes years to get children back once the state takes custody. [excerpt, Laura Rena Murray]
Pennington County's behavior has been called shocking. With state officials sitting in the audience and not on the dais, former US Senator James Abourezk urged the federal government to sue the State of South Dakota.
The court finds that Judge Davis, States Attorney Vargo, Secretary Valenti and Ms. Van Hunnick developed and implemented policies and procedures for the removal of Indian children from their parents’ custody in violation of the mandates of the Indian Child Welfare Act and in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. [ILPC Turtle Talk]
This blogger has direct knowledge of abuses visited upon families by employees of the state from 1994 to 2000 and is all too close to this story.
Family law courts in South Dakota are disgusting, disturbing and highly abusive. The Lakota People’s Law Project was the first organization to uncover the Mette rape scandal, publishing a full investigative report in 2013. The Lakota People’s and growing voices are demanding that the U.S. Department of Justice launch a full-scale investigation into the Mette rape scandal. What that means is that judges in South Dakota know they are a protected class.
Read that here.

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