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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  • Genocide is too strong of a word. Take out your thesaurus and find a better one.

    Posted by Christiane Dechert, 06/12/2013 1:15am (2 years ago)

  • Simmer down people!!! Nobody is stealing children. If a child is taken away from their parents then there has to be a lot of documentation to support the claim and interviews need to be conducted in order to see if that child needs to be taken away. This guy makes a lot of accusations saying children are be stolen from reservations just because they are Native American. Where are the facts that back this up. I know if my child got stolen for no reason I would be knocking on every major news outlets door and reporting it to the police, but not one name or any kind of documentation backing these claims of a child getting stolen from a restroom. I mean didn't the parents file a police report or a missing persons report. And it sounds to me that this guy is a little racist saying that Native American children that are placed in foster care should not not be placed with white people. It should not matter what race you are. If you can provide a good life and a loving home, then it should not matter what race you are. I am from South Dakota and I have never even heard of little Native American children getting taken from their homes and family for no reason. We do have laws here and I am pretty sure stealing children of any race is one of them. Though i am not a full blooded Native American ( my dad is half) I have been to the reservation where my grandmother lived many times and have never heard of this. The man that wrote the this is apparently Cherokee Indian. I wonder how many Native American children he has fostered or adopted since he does not want them with white families. My mother is white and my father is half white. I guess by his standereds i was taken away from my family I couldn't go and live with my mothers side of the family.

    Posted by Cody Spears, 06/12/2013 12:51am (2 years ago)

  • I hope you watched "dr Phil program last week,
    Which was disgusting and one sided.
    I would like to know what I can do to help.
    You may contact me at :

    Posted by Lou jackson, 06/11/2013 10:34pm (2 years ago)

  • I am outraged that Native Americans in the state of South Dakota are being taking away from their family only for the state to receive more funds ? What? What century is this..? This is an outrage of any state government..the state should be sued for acts that are totally inhuman ...we are one people, one !!!Why is this even happening. Stop now!!!! The Government does not own people, you have never owned people who have been here long before White man came and destroyed everything. I truly feel DDS of South Dakota/The State of South Dakota should be charged with crimes against humanity/genocide.

    Posted by brenda tartaglia, 06/11/2013 10:01pm (2 years ago)

  • You are right. The stealing of children is just another aspect of a nation committed to the ways of Germany in the 1930s. I have blog, and you can read why there. Go back to the first post and read The Victorian Holocausts and the Creation of the Third World. Thanks. The blog is

    Posted by marc w kohler, 06/11/2013 8:52pm (2 years ago)

  • How sad this is an to think this is 2013 has no one learned from their mistakes ? An to think they are
    still mistreating the people whom most of us have
    indian of one kind or another in our ancestory !

    Posted by Alberta Fling, 06/11/2013 8:42pm (2 years ago)

  • WTF????!!!!

    Posted by Laura Dial, 06/11/2013 6:04pm (2 years ago)

  • Very disturbing hearing how this unethical practice has gone on - I can pray that it will be overturned this year. But this month would be better! Planning to promote the cause.

    Posted by Carole Zermuehlen, 06/11/2013 4:55pm (2 years ago)

  • this is an obscenity!

    Posted by Eric A. Stocker, 06/11/2013 4:27pm (2 years ago)

  • I am very cautious in assuming that the child protective services are always acting in a fit manner, as it seems often they pull children from homes for very small reasons, to be taken out of their homes and put in other homes that are often times worse. But I do have to question the statistics here. Tribal life is not always good, in fact there is a huge amount of bad things going on in these tribes. Many of these children were likely removed from the homes for very good reasons. The crime rate is incredibly high on reservations, alcoholism and drug use is rampant. There are many other factors that likely contribute to the high rate of children being removed from their homes. That's not to say that some of the cases are most likely very unfair, and for bad reasons, but I would seriously consider that that percentage is likely not more then in the rest of our society. Trust me I am not one to trust our government, and do not like what happens with child protection agencies in this country. And the constitutional rights they are able to stomp on, and do think that it is often for the money. But I think this is very biased, and living near the reservations has opened my eyes up to some of the horrific things that happen there.

    If we want to go pointing fingers at who is committing genocide to the American Indians, the finger should be pointed at the American people and our government, but this is not the reason. We are killing off their way of life by giving them handout after handout. It has in many cases taken away their self worth. Which in my opinion, has led to the majority of their problems.

    Posted by Sarah, 06/11/2013 4:25pm (2 years ago)

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