An Associated Press story by Sioux Falls correspondent Kristi Eaton with the headline “Report: South Dakota breaks child-protection laws” recently started being published by newspapers. The Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan was the first South Dakota outlet I found to that published the story. The story itself appears to me to be factually accurate, although I find the headline very easy to misinterpret. [Update: The link to the Yankton Daily Press story stopped working. Here are a few links to to other sources that published the same article: Link 1 Link 2 Link 3]
The report referenced by the story was prepared by the Lakota People’s Law Project, a private advocacy organization, and is not the the result of a government inquiry of any type. According to the story, the report finds that “South Dakota willfully has violated federal law by removing too many American Indian children from their homes and placing them in foster care with non-Indian families.” This position has been advanced by the Lakota People’s Law Project for quite some time now. The “Indian Child Welfare Act directors” who approved the report are tribal employees who do not work for the State of South Dakota. I suspect they include the people listed on this DSS website. A petition urging the ICWA Directors to send the report to Congress was advanced by the Lakota People’s Law Project, and is linked here and in PDF format here ->. 2012.11.30 ICWA Directors Petition I Lakota People’s Law Project. I called the Lakota People’s Law Project and was told that the report will be posted to their website later today, and will add a link to it once I notice it is up.
Also of note from the story, the BIA had said in late 2011 that it was going to hold a summit in the summer of 2012 to address the concerns raised by the NPR stories. That summit never happened. It should have, and it appears to me that fault lies with the BIA for not getting it done. I will personally be writing to our congressional delegation to ask them to make it happen.
Another interesting tidbit I came across while researching for this post is that it appears likely NPR will air a report on Lakota foster care in December. This story indicates that one of the reasons for the timing of this report is to attempt to get some coverage of it from NPR. [Update: the original link no longer works. Here is Google’s cached version of the story from the “Indian Country Today Media Network”] I do not know if the upcoming NPR story is related to the previous series in any way, but rather hope so given the over year-long wait for a response by NPR.
**December 2nd Update** An “Executive Summary” of the report is available on the website of the Lakota People’s Law Project. It says relatively little. The full version still does not appear to be publicly available.