"If We Don't Act Now, We Will Lose The Opportunity To End This Crisis"
After 150 years of forced child removal from tribes, and daily violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act, all nine South Dakota Tribal Councils agree on the best permanent solution to this crisis: A Lakota-run foster care and family service system. Help make this solution a reality.
With your help, Lakota children will no longer endure the state's culturally biased foster care system. New programs set up within the tribes will be funded through a direct federal relationship, allowing Lakota families to heal and thrive, and creating decent paying jobs in the very poorest communities in the United States.
Our Work Depends On Your Support
Where we are now:
South Dakota State facilities are the new Indian Boarding Schools
There is a profound and fundamental cultural bias in South Dakota. The state is referred to by its own residents as the "Mississippi of the North." There is still exists a frontier mentality that informs thoughts and actions. There is mistrust and hatred for the Native people in South Dakota, passed down through generations of prejudice, bigotry, and misunderstanding. This culture enables the slow genocide that South Dakota continues to inflict upon its own population.
Lakota kids disappear at alarming rates from their tribes and families in South Dakota. 13% of the child population in South Dakota is Native American, yet they make up 54% of the children housed in state foster care. Currently, South Dakota’s child protection agency does NOT have a policy of oversight regarding the drug protocols recommended by the FDA for foster children. Kids are exhibiting the exact adverse effects identified by the FDA as to why these drugs are not safe for children, including cutting themselves and becoming suicidal. Last year, South Dakota admitted that it had been over-prescribing powerful anti-psychotic drugs, which have not gained widespread approval for use by children, in state run foster homes. South Dakota blamed the drug companies, which earn huge profits from the sale of these drugs, but the state government is equally responsible and thus should be held accountable.
It is time for the Tribes in South Dakota to organize and bring back the traditional ways of self-governance. The federal government must re-direct funds away from the Department of Social Services, and towards new, Lakota run child and family service programs. We cannot let South Dakota’s treatment of Lakota children as a form of economic stimulus continue. To end this emergency situation, we have launched the Lakota Initiative for Family Empowerment.
How we change it:
Foster and Family Care run by Lakota, for Lakota!
It is imperative that we act now and get federal planning grants this year. The opportunity we have now with the federal government hinges upon us acting while our allies are still in office. We need to see the planning process through under this administration, and make this a solution a reality.
This summer, the Lakota People’s Law Project is researching to what extent tribes already provide child and family services for tribal members both on and off the reservation. In order to provide technical assistance to tribes who are applying for direct federal funding for child and family services programs, it must be clear exactly how many people are being serviced currently, and by what programs. There must be an internal structure of support for children and families, so that the State of South Dakota can no longer attempt to justify their removals of hundreds of Native children each year from tribe and family.
Lakota People's Law Project is working with A Positive Tomorrow and Chase Iron Eyes to lead a team of organizers and identify the community elders on each reservation, and to facilitate their involvement throughout the planning process. The leadership of tribal elders is essential for the implementation of traditional standards of placement and care for Lakota children, and their guidance is fundamental to the process of developing tribal child and family services programs.
LPLP researchers will prepare drafts of applications for the Federal government, including a proposal directed at an inter-agency agreement between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of the Interior (DOI). The purpose of this proposal is to secure the necessary funding for a 24-month planning period wherein the tribes will develop the capacity to provide tribal child and family service programs, including the capacity building investments which are vital to the survival of those programs. If the necessary organizing and data collection continue at the current pace, this proposal will be delivered by the end of August. Lakota People’s Law Project is also assessing the potential training costs, administrative salaries, and technological capacity building which are necessary to the successful implementation of a tribal Title IV program.
By 2016, the Lakota People’s Law Project hopes to have successfully assisted all 9 Federally recognized tribes in South Dakota with their development and implementation of Tribal Title IV Programs. We will also help create estimated cost charts to illustrate the intended use of funds, as well as a narrative of the budget justifications for internal and applicational use.