For far too long our people have been ignored by the United States. Many who are willing to learn of our struggles are kept in the dark by corporate-controlled media and other institutions. Genocide has survived in various forms after the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 and after the deliberate kidnapping, haircutting, beatings, sexual-physical abuse, rape, and other crimes against humanity that happened to our grandmothers and grandfathers at the hands of Christian Churches and the United States Government during the boarding school era. Our blood is all over America’s hands. Yet, we don't want to exploit White Guilt; we want modern humans to honor the Treaties and the Covenants that both Native and white American ancestors agreed to uphold before God.
But before proceeding, I ask that you support our work in South Dakota by donating $50. You’ll receive a free t-shirt with original artwork by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey and photographer Aaron Huey. All proceeds will go to pay Lakota professionals and activists.
- Fact: In South Dakota Indian children comprise approximately 13% of the total child population yet constitute roughly 54% of all children in state custody.
- Fact: In South Dakota approximately 740+ Indian kids are taken out of Indian families every year by the state.
- Fact: A lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes regarding South Dakota's reported violations of ICWA relating to the 48 hour hearing requirements is currently active.
- Fact: When our foster and adoptive children are taken from their families, 90% of the time they are not placed with their kin or another Indian family (as required by ICWA), although eligible Indian foster homes exist and yet sit vacant.
-Assertion: When our children are taken from us and placed in non-Indian residential or institutional care they have arguably zero access to culture or teachings which are vital to their self-esteem/identity.
- Fact: All foster children are classified as “special needs” children by the state of South Dakota, making them four times more profitable and resulting in a 72,000 per year financial incentive per child.
- Fact: the South Dakota economy brings in approximately 56 million dollars per year from the federal government by classifying Indian kids as special needs and removing them from their families.
- Assertion: Our children are prescribed psychotropic drugs at such institutions, side effects of which include destabilized mental health and suicidal ideations, and sales of these pharmaceuticals are increased significantly at our children’s expense.
- Fact: Within two years of leaving these institutions or turning 18, or otherwise "aging out" of the reach of the DSS, 63% of our kids are on the streets, in prison, or dead.
In a nutshell, that describes the on-going state of affairs in South Dakota with respect to Indian Tribes and the Dept. of Social Services. This writing is to make the reader aware of what has been happening to us. This travesty is going on right now. Justice requires that it be stopped. Bill Janklow’s legacy must die for Lakota kids to live. The Lakota Peoples Law Project is seven years deep investigating and raising awareness of this plague. LastRealIndians.com, the Lakota People’s Law Project, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have teamed up and are organizing on every reservation in South Dakota to address this crisis.
Our work is broken into a focus on the problem and a focus on solutions. In terms of the problem, we are keeping pressure on South Dakota. On the solutions side, we are helping to organize a coordinated effort among the nine Tribes in South Dakota to, eventually, take over the tens of millions per year in funding that benefits South Dakota DSS and the state as it pertains to Indian children. Nearly all of the nine Tribal governments that deal directly with South Dakota are working to assess their funding and other needs with the overall goal of establishing a direct funding arrangement between the Tribes and the Federal government to the exclusion of the state. This will take time, but I have faith that it will happen eventually. We are willing to engage the Health and Human Services Department, Interior, and others to ensure proper administrative oversight and monitoring as relates to federal funds. The Governor of South Dakota has recently issued a letter supporting such a transfer of funding and oversight responsibility of Indian Children to Indian Tribes. We are thankful for that.
Lila Wophila Ichichapelo (thank you all for your time)
Chase Iron Eyes