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ACLU Files Lawsuit Against SD Officials for Violations of Indian Child Welfare Act

In October 2011, NPR published a scathing critique of South Dakota's treatment of Indian foster children and compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. The South Dakota Legislature declined again this February to do anything about the problems NPR spotlighted. South Dakota's executive branch and Congressional delegation have either denied or kept quiet about the Indian foster care issue.

Maybe the ACLU can get some answers and action with the class-action lawsuit it filed in Rapid City last week:

Three Indian parents and two tribes in South Dakota today stood up against these unlawful and disgraceful practices by filing a class-action lawsuit in Rapid City, South Dakota. The ACLU filed the complaint on their behalf in order to put an end to this unconstitutional process, which has unfortunately become standard practice in the state.

...Robert Doody, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota, said it is time for state officials to start following the law: "After years of complaints, South Dakota has failed to address the systematic practices of removing Indian children from their homes. This lawsuit seeks to address these unconstitutional and harmful policies, and will hopefully prompt state officials to finally start following the law and respecting people's basic rights" [Vesna Jaksic, "South Dakota Parents and Tribes File Lawsuit Over Unlawful Separation of Children From Families," ACLU: Blog of Rights, 2013.03.12].

The complaint names Department of Social Services Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Department of Social Services employee LuAnn Van Hunnik, Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo, and 7th Judicial Circuit Court Presiding Judge Jeff Davis as defendants. But if the allegations are true, the defendants list should be expanded to include the folks at the top, Governors Daugaard and Rounds, who have facilitated the endemic discrimination in our foster care system.


  1. Douglas Wiken 2013.03.25

    So, is the solution to this for South Dakota state government to forget about Native Children and turn all responsibility over to the tribes since they claim to know better?

  2. Kal Lis (LK) 2013.03.25

    Vargo has only been in office since November. Are his predecessors not named in the law suit because they can't be sued for official acts while in office?

    (Decided to change screen name per Cory's request.)

  3. grudznick 2013.03.25

    Maybe the ACLU is insaner than Sibby's stepbrother.

  4. Jerry 2013.03.25

    No one should forget about any children, period. The problem is goes much further than that and it will be a good thing to finally let some truth shine through on this affair. What I am surprised with is that it has taken so long to start the process after it was first made public. Looks kind of fishy. Dagaard and Rounds should be feeling a little less comfortable about right now.

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