"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!
Now that eight tribes have applied for Title IV planning grants, it is absolutely critical that we support the development of tribal child and family service programs! Over the next twenty-four months, we have an opportunity to form a new type of relationship between Indian tribes and the United States federal government. This opportunity hinges upon us taking action while our allies, such as Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, are still in office. Assuredly, the best chance for Lakota run foster care becoming a permanent solution is during this period-- starting TODAY!
Last fall, the Lakota People’s Law Project assisted in coordinating the efforts among tribal leadership for the development of tribal guardianship and foster care programs both on and off of reservations. This work includes supporting the planning process for seven independent tribes, and also communicating useful commonalities among those tribes in order to foster a collaborative circle of resources. We must lay the framework of an internal structure of support for Native American children and families; no longer can we rely on the State of South Dakota to uphold our sacred trust!
Lakota People's Law Project has partnered 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 will also assist in the coordination and deliverance of a proposal for the Flandreau-Santee Sioux and Lower Brule Tribes, both of whom have directed their attention towards 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 for the tribes who have not yet applied or received a grant. Granted that our organizing efforts and rate of data collection continue at the current pace, this proposal will be delivered by the end of August, and hopefully reach a meeting in September. The Lakota People’s Law Project will continue assessing the potential training costs, administrative salaries, and technological capacity building which are necessary to the full and successful implementation of a tribal Title IV programs.
By 2016, the Lakota People’s Law Project hopes to have successfully assisted, in one way or another, all 9 of the Federally recognized tribes in South Dakota with their development and implementation of Tribal Title IV Programs. There are two tribes currently undergoing internal discussions regarding the best course of action moving forward, and we will continue to make ourselves available for their support at any time throughout the process of developing tribal foster care programs.