Mar 21 2013
Washington Post: South Dakota tribes file lawsuit over removal of Native American children from homes
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota routinely violates the federal law governing foster care and adoptions for American Indiana children by holding improper hearings after children are removed from homes, two tribes allege in a lawsuit filed Thursday.
The Oglala Sioux and Rosebud Sioux Tribes, along with three Native American parents, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Rapid City, alleging the state is violating the Indian Child Welfare Act. The lawsuit is part of an ongoing dispute about Native American children in foster care in South Dakota.
Federal law requires that Native American children removed from homes be placed with relatives or with other Native American families, except in unusual circumstances. Tribal officials contend South Dakota removes too many American Indian children from their homes and then puts them in foster care with non-Indian families.
The lawsuit alleges that when children are removed from a home based on accusations of neglect or abuse, parents aren’t given a proper hearing to determine whether a child should be kept away longer. Many Native Americans who leave the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Indian reservations move to Pennington County, which is home to Rapid City, and the lawsuit seeks class-action status for all Native American parents and custodians who are members of federally recognized tribes there.
The lawsuit contends that hearings are sometimes as short as 60 seconds and parents aren’t given the chance to introduce evidence showing their ability to care for the child or to question the state.