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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

LAKOTA SPRING: PUBLIC HEARINGS ON SOUTH DAKOTA ICWA SCANDAL

 
 photo HoweandSheehanofLPLP_zps09c2ee71.jpg They call it the Lakota Spring: Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation are partnering with the Lakota Peoples Law Project [LPLP] to engage in a massive, far-reaching organizing effort to recover their children, stolen from their families in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act [ICWA]. The LPLP and Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA] officials are scheduled to co-host a three-day summit, May 15-17, on the current state of Native foster care and ICWA violations affecting Lakota children. To prepare for the summit, tribal officials are convening two public hearings: the first on April 20, from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM, at the Grand River Casino in Mobridge, S.D.; the second on April 28th, from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM, at the Prairie Nights Casino in Fort Yates, N.D. The purpose of the hearings is two-fold:
At these hearings Lakota relatives who have lost children to the foster care system will be invited to speak, on camera, about their experiences with the Department of Social Services. . . . The Standing Rock tribal government is making a substantial investment to explore having its own family welfare system and to secure long term direct federal funding to support it.

In addition, the "LPLP is also circulating an online petition to encourage members of Congress to attend the May summit."
The push for the summit with the BIA comes out of a report that Lakota tribal officials recently submitted to Congress, highlighting the serial violations of the ICWA that are routine in South Dakota. The report, combined with previous efforts on the part of the tribes and the LPLP, demonstrated a deliberate pattern of stealing Lakota children from extended families perfectly able, willing, and qualified to care for them, and illegally placing them with white families — in part, for "perverse financial incentives." The result was a hellish record of physical, psychological, and even sexual abuse (including rape) for many Indian children, and State officials subsequently prosecuted two of their own child welfare officials for blowing the whistle on these crimes.
For historical background, see Denise Oliver Velez's front-page piece from yesterday on "Stolen Generations," and Meteor Blades's diary on the long-term effects of stealing children from their families (some of whom are Kossacks today). For greater background about the current "removals" going on among the Lakota, read the LPLP's diaries on the cover-up of rape and other abuse of Indian children in the South Dakota foster care system, and on NPR's coverage of the report to Congress. See also my own diary on the racism and "perverse financial incentives" that keep the illegal practice of Indian child removal going strong.
If you live in the area of either hearing, you can help in two ways: First, if you know of Native families who may be affected by these issues, please help spread the word. Second, contact your elected representatives, and encourage them to support the efforts of the Standing Rock members (and those of other affected Lakota nations) to recover their stolen children and enforce compliance with the ICWA.
Source: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/15/1201757/--New-Day-This-Week-In-American-Indian-News-Stolen-Masks-Stolen-Children-Sherman-Alexie

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