Native Sun News: State of South Dakota fails to stall Indian Child Welfare Act lawsuit

The team that won the Indian Child Welfare Act lawsuit in South Dakota, from left: 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

Judge calls arguments in ICWA case 'frivolous at best'
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Editor

RAPID CITY –– A three year old class action lawsuit, which involves the first 48 hours after an Indian child is taken from his or her family that alleges the State of South Dakota regularly violates the Constitutional Rights of Indian parents and provision 1922 of the Indian Child Welfare Act, may now move forward.

The case, Oglala Sioux Tribe v Van Hunnik, was heard last February in the Federal Courthouse in Rapid City before Chief U.S. District Judge Jeffery Viken.

The case was filed by American Civil Liberties Union attorneys Dana Hanna and Stephen Pevar on behalf of the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes and all Indian parents in Pennington County against the Department of Social Services, Judge Jeff Davis and States Attorney Mark Vargo.

“The judge ruled in our favor on all seven claims and gave summary judgment to the tribe last year on March 30 of 2015,” Hanna said. “The State defendants, DSS, Judge Davis and the States Attorney filed motions to reconsider. Basically in the motion to reconsider they are saying ‘Your Honor you made a mistake you should reconsider this and change your ruling.”

The case has been in a holding pattern since then awaiting Viken’s decision on the motion to reconsider.

Read the rest of the story on the all new Native Sun News website: Judge calls arguments in ICWA case 'frivolous at best

(Ernestine Chasing Hawk can be reached at

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