Lawsuit targets South Dakota over Indian child welfare cases

A class action lawsuit was filed against the state of South Dakota for its handling of Indian child welfare cases.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three Indian parents, the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. It accuses the state of removing Indian children from their homes without due process to their families or to tribes and in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

"It is disturbing how often Indian children are separated from their parents, tribes and communities based on flimsy evidence," Stephen Pevar, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union's Racial Justice Program, said in a press release. "Whenever a family goes through the difficult separation process, state officials must ensure people's fundamental rights are not thrown out the window. These children, parents and tribes are entitled to more by federal law."

Bryan Brewer, the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, said more than half of the children in foster care in Pennington County are Indian. Some 60 percent of children taken by the South Dakota Department of Social Services are Indian,The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.

The lawsuit is Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik.

Get the Story:
Lawsuit targets South Dakota's process of removing children from parents (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 3/22)
Lawsuit Alleges Violations Of ICWA, Due Process (South Dakota Public Radio 3/21)
Tribes Sue County For Alleged Due Process Violations (KELO-TV 3/22)
South Dakota tribes file lawsuit over removal of Native American children from homes (AP 3/21)

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