South Dakota commits shocking genocide against Native Americans


Genocide is not too strong a term for what is now happening in South Dakota. The huge, shocking violation of legal and human rights being carried out by the state is tantamount to genocide against the Native American nations, the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Sioux, residing within its borders. It is the abduction and kidnapping by state officials, under the cover of law, of American Indian children.

This is a gross violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978. Further, these abominable kidnappings are being upheld by the courts of that state.

The best approach to this crime against humanity is by the following initial checklist:

1. Over 700 American Indian children are removed by South Dakota state officials from their homes every year.

2. These hundreds are sent to white foster homes or group homes.

3. Many are adopted by white families.

4. Indian children account for 13.8 percent of the state's child population, yet they represent 56.3 percent of the foster care population.

5. Of the hundreds of Native children in foster care in 2011, 87 percent were placed in non-Indian homes while Native foster homes went empty.

6. Because of its targeting Native children, South Dakota is currently removing children from their families at a higher rate than the vast majority of other states in the U.S.

7. Once removed, the state's courts routinely keep Indian children from even seeing their families for at least 60 days.

8. The state's Department of Social Services (DSS) workers warn Native children that if they become emotional during a visit with their parents, the visits will be discontinued (this is incredible!).                   

This is genocide as defined by the United Nations General Assembly's Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This Convention (Article 2) defines genocide as follows :

"... any of the following acts commit with intent  to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

South Dakota is committing blatant and flagrant genocide against the Sioux people in violation of subsection (e) of Article 2 by transferring Indian children to white homes, and also of subsection (b) amid allegations of sexual abuse and drugging of Native children in DSS foster care. Those responsible need to be brought to justice in an international court of law in addition to the lawsuit already filed in U.S courts (see below). This is a most serious case of ethnic cleansing.

One Indian mother had 62 hearings and was never allowed to present any witness testimony, never even allowed to see the petition filed against her.  This is a huge violation of long established U.S. due process. Also, the Indian Child Welfare Act mandates that Native children shall first be placed with tribal relatives, non-related tribal members, or members of other tribes before non-Indian families can be considered.

South Dakota has taken a step back into the late 19th century, when thousands of Indian children were forcibly removed from their homes by U.S. soldiers and sent to boarding schools - allegedly for education, where the motto was "Kill the Indian, Save the Man." In some of these schools the motto was more akin to simply "Kill the Indian."

This journalist has heard numerous accounts from families across Indian Country who had lost at least one child to the boarding school system in the 19th century. They were told that their child or children had run away from the school and could not be found. In other cases they were informed that their child had died from illness.

For the Lakota people this has been a continuation of a 100-year history of child abduction. This began in the 1880s under the U.S. government policy of forced assimilation (genocide); children as young as 5 years old were forcibly removed from their homes and taken to boarding schools hundreds of miles away. Now it is happening again, this time under the mask of state-run foster care. Over the past decade over 5,000 Sioux children have been removed from their homes. According to a recent report by the Indian Child Welfare Act directors in South Dakota, 740 Lakota children are removed to foster care each year and 90 percent are placed in white homes and institutions.

A vigorous campaign is currently being waged by the Lakota People's Law Project to secure the return of over 2,200 Lakota, Dakota and Nakota children illegally taken from their homes by DSS.

Among the results of the LPLP efforts was the recent Great Plains Indian Child Welfare Act Summit held May 15-17 in Rapid City, South Dakota. The summit was held in an atmosphere that has been characterized by the Oglala Sioux Tribe as a "child welfare emergency."

The summit also had as a backdrop a federal class action lawsuit that was filed on March 21 by the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes and tribal members, challenging the continued removal of Native children in Pennington County, South Dakota, from their homes.

South Dakota DSS has asserted that it had authority to remove children by tribal court order or tribal council agreement. The states have no authority over such youngsters; the tribes have exclusive jurisdiction over Indian children residing on reservations.

However, investigations by LPLP found that South Dakota's assertions are blatantly false.

Typically, DSS would receive a false report of child neglect on a given reservation and without any legal authority would snatch the child in question without any notification to the child's relatives. In one such instance DSS abducted a young boy when he left his relatives to use the restroom while family members were attending a high school graduation ceremony. It was weeks before his family found where he had been taken.

Aside from the genocidal racism involved there is a financial motive on the part of the state. South Dakota receives $79,000 from the federal government per year per child for every Native youngster it removes, but provides only $9,000 to a white foster home. The remaining $70,000 is deposited in state coffers.

The president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and other Natives feel that the ICWA lawsuit is for greater fairness for all families, regardless of race, including whites. But, it must be remembered that white youngsters are not being sent to non-white homes; for whites, genocide is obviously not an issue. The humanity of Indian people, particularly in the face of the racism they have endured is truly poignant and moving. This becomes a movement not just for Indian people, but for all, led by long-suffering, grieving Native families.

Update: The Lakota People's Law Project website has petitions that people can sign and also a place to sign up to receive updates on developments as they happen.

Photo: Pine Ridge Indian Reservation child. Pamela Cook, Flickr, CC BY NC SA 2.0


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  • Typical racism white supremacy to me. Further white terrorism at it's finest. People of color actually think racism white supremacy is a thing of our past?

    Posted by Aaron, 06/05/2013 8:10pm (2 years ago)

  • Once again the American government is interfering with the separate and legally founded government of the Native American people. It has a long known fact that non-native American people think their ways of life,their religion,their standards of living and their customs are better than the Native American people. I say they are wrong! My family geneology can only go back four generations when both sides married women from Native American tribes. I am proud of my lineage. The current stealing of tribal children for what is monetary gains for that state is criminal. Furthermore, letting a non-tribal judicial system hold these children hostage while some bureaucratic process delays the legal tribal judicial system to take control of the situation. Tribal children need to be cared for and raised by their own people. Placement of tribal children in white foster care or permanently into a white home violates the laws established to protect our children. I may not be a rich person but how can I and my family help. Maybe the conditions on the reservations are not what you want to see in America but living the old ways does not make it wrong.

    Posted by Cynthia Morey, 06/05/2013 7:26pm (2 years ago)

  • Our Native Relatives.. have just as much right to " raise " there children as any other family does. Who are you to say " otherwise. "? We are all people.. How would you feel if someone was to come into your family ..and take away your children? I don't think it is right for them to have to put up ..with this ongoing " bullshit" that keeps. on taking place year after year.. regardless of who is president! When is everybody going to be treated equally? When are the " wrong doers" going to be held accountable for their " actions"?? When is our relatives.. going to be able to live their lives being "free "? Why is it you feel the need to " harass them? They have done nothing wrong! They don't cause " no harm " to anybody! Why can't you people.. let our relatives live in " peace "?? a'ho mitakuye oyasin

    Posted by julie solarski, 06/05/2013 7:13pm (2 years ago)

  • The government needs to leave these kids lone. They need to be with their natural parents. How they like it if some one took their kids from them.

    Posted by sally kelley, 06/05/2013 6:18pm (2 years ago)

  • I would appreciate changing "genocide" to "cultural genocide." I am glad to see this posted - it cannot be brought to our attention often enough that this is happening.

    Posted by Rachel Port, 06/05/2013 6:00pm (2 years ago)

  • I thought we were all equal and race doesent matter? what happened hahahahahahahahahahaha.

    Posted by Your Freedom is a lie, 06/05/2013 3:56pm (2 years ago)

  • The stealing of Native children has gone on for hundreds of years. Read "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown. There was a docu/movie ?Older Than America" that is about the religious schools where Native children were abused and often killed. Check out the Carlisle Schools and their part in the hijacking of children to "assimilate" them into a white Christian world.

    I traveled the Red Road for many years as an artist and storyteller. I sold books and many things which I made. I was going through an older history book on America which had a small, but informative bit of American history pertaining to the governments treatment of Native children even in the 1960's. Taking of the children was common place under the guise of "medical treatment" where girls were said to have appendicitis and taken to a white hospital off the reservation and then returned after the surgery, which was really total sterilization. It was often claimed if boys were rebellious or aggressive, they were also sterilized. I cannot remember the book title or authors, but according to the written history in that book, the birth rates for Native girls were expected to be lower than the previous years and the government "authorities" seemed very pleased about their crimes done to these children.
    There was also a write up on the "Blanket Fever" in which one of the higher up military and it was said a sitting President liked the idea of handing out blankets to the Native peoples, contaminated with small pox germs. It was said the idea was not given as a direct order, but more like "wouldn't it be a good thing if this happened.
    Did you know, America was the first nation in the world to use germ warfare and deliberately infected the indigenous people. Also, America was the first nation in the world to used chemical warfare in WW1 by using mustard Gas ? Nothing to be proud of.

    Posted by Lone Wolf Woman, 06/05/2013 3:45pm (2 years ago)

  • I would personally have to see the state of these reservations before blindly jumping on the bandwagon to say the state is wrong in this matter. I have been on several Canadian native reservations, and many of them are not fit to raise a dog on, let alone a child. There are 2 sides to every story, it would be prudent to first establish the living conditions of the child on the reserve (not touch upon in this article) before passing judgement.

    Posted by D, 06/05/2013 2:42pm (2 years ago)

  • This is inconscionable and unacceptable.... This information must be gotten out to the masses.

    Posted by Loretta Bergey, 06/05/2013 2:33pm (2 years ago)

  • Is there any kind of petition on behalf of the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota that can be public ally circulated so those of us who wish to support their cause that we can sign?

    Posted by Tudie R., 06/05/2013 2:17pm (2 years ago)

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