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Tribes in South Dakota seek control over child welfare programs

Chase Iron Eyes of the Lakota People's Law Project leads protest for Indian children in Washington, D.C., in November 2013. Photo from Facebook

Five South Dakota tribes are seeking more control over child welfare programs that are currently handled by the state.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Yankton Sioux Tribe filed applications to run their own Title IV-E programs. Their action comes amid concern that too many tribal children are being placed in non-tribal homes.

"I think the Lakota Nation feels very strongly that the state is derelict in its duty," Matthew Renda of the Lakota People's Law Project, which helped the tribes prepare their applications, told The Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

According to the project, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe was the first in Indian Country to receive Title IV-E planning dollars. The tribe was awarded $300,000 from the Department of Health and Human Services last year.

Indian children make up 13.8 percent of the state population yet they represent 56.3 percent of the foster care population, the report said. Of the 440 Indian children in foster care as of July 2011, 87 percent were placed in non-Indian homes while 39 Indian foster homes went empty, according to the group.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe are currently suing the state, alleging non-compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act and violations of Indian parents' constitutional rights.

Get the Story:
S.D. tribes look to establish foster care services on reservations (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 6/27) (AP 6/27)

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