According to the Child Welfare League of America's latest report, Native American children constitute roughly two-thirds of those involuntarily seized and placed in out-of-home care each year by the State of South Dakota's Department of Social Services—despite the fact that Native Americans constitute only 13% of the state's population. And even though the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) mandates that family members and tribes be given preference in adoption, foster homes on reservations sit empty.
The reasons for this are clear. South Dakota receives almost $100 million per year from the federal government in foster and adoptive care monies. Because the state designates all Native children as "special needs," they receive thousands of additional dollars for each Lakota child.
To right this wrong the Lakota People's Law Project is working with Manhattan-based law firm Arendt-Fox to prepare a federal civil law suit seeking an injunction against the taking of Lakota children. The state of South Dakota's abuses are so egregious, it should be "hands off" Lakota kids until state authorities understand ICWA's mandates.
Bill Janklow, former governor of South Dakota, explained the attitude of state officials toward the federal foster care dollars flowing into South Dakota each year:
"The money is incredibly important. Look, we're a poor state. We're not a high-income state. We're like North Dakota without oil."
We must stop the state of South Dakota from treating Lakota children as a form of economic stimulus. Please join us in this historic case as we fight for the return of more than 2000 Lakota kids back to their relatives and tribes. Make a gift to our Lakota Children Legal Action Fund today.