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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  • this is an obscenity!

    Posted by Eric A. Stocker, 06/11/2013 4:27pm (1 year 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 (1 year ago)

  • STOP the genocide!!!

    Posted by Craig Manns, 06/11/2013 2:40pm (1 year ago)

  • This is a barbaric practice,it reminds me of a time in Ireland where unmarried mothers, and in many cases married mothers had their children taken away and adopted at the behest of the so called "roman catholic" priests and bishops , who colluded with state officials in this ghastly violation of human,moral,and christian rights. In the vast majority of these cases the babies were sold to childless couples in the USA, England, and many other far flung places by the "Christian " nuns who in the main ran these evil homes for unmarried mothers and destitute children. Indeed it is only in very recent years that the truth has begun to emerge about the sadistic and brutal treatment that was meted out to these "Sinners". In many cases there was wholesale child abuse and paedophilia was the norm rather than the exception. I would urge all right minded people to protest and resist this practice,from what I know and read of the Native Americans they have a far superior way of rearing and educating their children,,they have an abundance of respect for their land,their elders,and a tolerance way above the so called leaders of what is now Known as the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Their spirituality and spiritual thinking is something that all people should embrace and their conduct in the face of so much racial prejudice , discrimination and wholesale annhilation is to be marveled at. The time has come to say enough is enough.

    Posted by Michael Flynn, Ireland, 06/11/2013 2:39pm (1 year ago)

  • I have just finished reading Ronald Wright's outstanding book, "Stolen Continents - The Americas Through Indian Eyes Since 1492" and I highly recommend this book to anyone who grieves for the greed and destruction perpetrated by uncivilized Europeans who attempted to ruin the unique and amazing cultures that continue to dwell in these lands.

    Posted by Barbara Bullas, 06/11/2013 2:37pm (1 year ago)

  • I'm surprised they are not waiting in the L&D room to catch the baby once it's born. Follow the money...this is happening all over the country. The main focus is on the poor and uneducated. Thanks to Bill Clinton, States are paid big bucks for taking children from families, whether legitimate or not, and fostering or adopting them out. These states employees have no conscience or soul. For South Dakota, apparently, there aren't enough non-native children being born to take so they focus on the indians and their children. The pregnant indian woman has become part of the State of Dakota economy. My question is, how are the states' workers keeping track of the indian children to know when take them? Are they following databases? Do they have insiders on the reservations working for them? So sad.

    Posted by MomOfIV, 06/11/2013 1:19pm (1 year ago)

  • Atleast they did not give them small pox

    Posted by Barry Bunes, 06/11/2013 1:18pm (1 year ago)

  • Great reporting, but what can someone outside of S. Dakota do to help stop this?

    Posted by Brad V, 06/11/2013 12:49pm (1 year ago)

  • this is not shocking. as a native I know for a fact similar acts happen to indigenous everyday from the pipe line in canada to the forcible removal of indigenous in south America. its not the first time in america children have been forcibly removed look at the first nations people in canada. isn't this tribe a sovereign nation and govern themselves? isn't t case is kidnapping? You keep saying "we should let shit go and this stuff happened hundreds of years ago." WAKE UP! it happens to us everyday.

    Posted by tuchesuavae, 06/11/2013 12:41pm (1 year ago)

  • this is shocking. as a native I know for a fact similar acts happen to indigenous everyday from the pipe line in canada to the forcible removal of indigenous in south America. its not the first time in america children have been forcibly removed look at the first nations people in canada. isn't this tribe a sovereign nation and govern themselves? isn't t case is kidnapping?

    Posted by tuchesuavae, 06/11/2013 12:08pm (1 year ago)

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