South Dakota defendants seek reconsideration in ICWA dispute

The team that won the lawsuit, from left to right: Carole Crazy Thunder-O’Rourke, Oglala Sioux Tribe Vice-Chairman Tom Poor Bear, ONTRAC Director Juanita Scherich, Valerie Janis, Lema Richards, ACLU attorney Stephan Pevar, William Chase and Rapid City attorney Dana Hanna. Photo by Richie Richards / Native Sun News

The defendants in an Indian Child Welfare Act lawsuit in South Dakota are asking a federal judge to reconsider his landmark decision in the case.

Last month, Judge Jeffrey L. Viken ruled that the state Department of Social Services and authorities in Pennington County have failed to comply with ICWA. He said they removed Indian children without providing due process to their families and their tribes.

"Indian children, parents and tribes deserve better," Viken stated simply in his 45-page ruling.

The defendants -- including a judge in Pennington County who removed Indian children from their families in 100 percent of the cases before him -- filed motions for reconsideration this month. Turtle Talk has posted the documents.

Native Americans represent nearly 9 percent of the state population. Yet 51 percent of children in the foster care system are American Indian or Alaska Native.

Many Indian children are removed at hearings in state court that last just as little as 60 seconds. Indian parents and guardians, along with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, challenged these practices in their suit, Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik.

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Judge in Indian child welfare case asks court to reconsider (AP 4/28)

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