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DOJ, Brendan Johnson: SD Violating ICWA in 48-Hour Child Custody Hearings

The United States Department of Justice is now on the record saying that South Dakota is violating the Indian Child Welfare Act in its removal of Indian children from their homes. On Friday, Judge Jeffrey Viken accepted the DOJ's motion to submit an amicus brief in support of the Indian plaintiffs in Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik.

The federal brief affirms the position laid out by the ACLU that South Dakota has denied Indian parents due process in Pennington County's 48-hour custody hearings and illegally separated Indian children from their families and tribes:

DOJ’s brief emphasizes that the federal government has a “special relationship” with Indian tribes and Indian people, and that ICWA was passed by Congress to promote and further that relationship. ICWA places substantial limits on the ability of state officials to remove Indian children from their homes in order to protect the integrity of Indian families and the survival of Indian tribes. DOJ expressly criticized positions taken by the Defendants, one of which contended that the protections guaranteed in ICWA did not apply to their 48-hour hearings. The DOJ brief explains that, contrary to the State’s arguments, ICWA “immediately imposes specific ongoing obligations on state officials” in these 48-hour hearings [ACLU press release, via Lakota Voice, 2014.08.18].

The 24-page brief, signed along with the motion to file it by U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, says to South Dakota, This is what ICWA says, and you're reading it wrong. It explicitly and vigorously rejects South Dakota's contention that we can ignore ICWA in emergency custody hearings.

South Dakota's violation of Indian family rights under ICWA must be remarkable: ACLU attorney Stephen Pevar, who is helping the Lakota plaintiffs argue their case in Rapid City, says this may be the first time since ICWA was enacted in 1978 that the federal government has intervened in a case like this at the District Court level.

The Department of Justice's intervention in Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik makes clear who really stands on the side of Indian families in South Dakota. It's not the co-opted South Dakota Libertarian Party and its cast of clowns who would dismantle government and abandon Indians to assimilation. It's not fake attorney general candidate Chad Haber, who squawks about abuse in the foster care system to exploit Indian children to fill his campaign bank account and blow smoke in front of his and his wife's own corruption.

The real defenders of South Dakota's Indian families are good people who recognize the need for strong laws and strong government to protect due process and tribal integrity from racism and corruption. The real defenders are good people like U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, who signed DOJ's amicus brief and the motion to file it, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which has the knowledge and resources to assist Indian families in this case.


  1. Tara Volesky 2014.08.19

    Instead of accusing Chad Haber of exploiting Indian children to fill his bank account, the real culprits are the State and Tribal governments. There are hundreds of millions of dollars involved in the system of Cash for kids, aka foster care and no bid contracts to a group home, in which Dennis Daugaard was in charge of while being LG. Child abuse has risen 36% last year. Maybe, the parents, grandparents, and children need to be heard. This is a very important issue that our politicians have run away from, and the media has failed to report on.

  2. Francie 2014.08.19

    It's my understanding SD Governor Dauegaard is promoting Indian child welfare programs be administered by the respective tribes. I think that's a suitable resolution to the problem of ICWA violations.

  3. Tara Volesky 2014.08.19

    Francie, the Tribals governments are suffering with the same disease that are state is infected with. Corruption, control and intimidation. The people live in fear on the reservation. They really don't have a voice. Doug and Candi Boes who lost their 3 children are now living in a homeless shelter, thanks to the tribal council. Parents Grandparent and children should be involved in reforming these programs. Doug and Candi have some very good ideas. Those are the people that should be reforming the DSS and ICWA. People who value children over money.

  4. larry kurtz 2014.08.19

    That South Dakota has any jurisdiction over tribal members whatsoever should scare the spit out of every Democrat in the state.

  5. Tara Volesky 2014.08.19

    Larry, well maybe it's time to address these issues in the public arena. I wish the media would get on it and interview people on and off the reservation that have been affected. Everybody runs from the issues while children are being abused. The tribal councils and our Congressional delegation along with the Governor are all in it together. Go to the people, not the Council.

  6. Bill Fleming 2014.08.19

    Tara, are you suggesting that the "rank and file" on the rez rise up against their Tribal power structure? Are you yourself an American Indian?

    Just trying to follow what you're saying.

    Personally, I don't see myself having much influence in a movement like that, even though you are probably onto something. There are perhaps as many political problems inside the Reservation among tribal factions as there are between the Tribes and the US Government.

    I just don't see how we wasicus could presume to have a dog in that fight.

    Please explain.

  7. Doug Boes 2014.08.19

    First off we are not living in a shelter, the babies that were ripped away from not just us but their entire tiospeye (family) ARE.. Cory you were asked specifically along with a host of state officials to help and you along with them did nothing. . You forgot to mention in your article that Danna Hanna the lawer against the state is the same lawyer our tax dollars paid for to represent the grandmother in this case in tribal court and without saying one word allowed the children to be given to this life of no family , running across the country to California on the babies' college funds and now back to South Dakota to sleep on the floors of a homeless shelter all under the pretext of improving their lives and retaining their culture! How are their lives improved? Where is there culture? Ripped from the only family they knew who had been adopted into the mothers family thru native ceremony as hunka parents to the children.
    The only true way to protect our children is an independent organization made up of normal people , not politicians not tribal council just people who can NEVER receive or direct funds toward entities or individuals! Made up of non tribal members, tribal members and others with a childs best welfare at heart. Maintaining family conections should be priority no matter what race. And court documents in minors.cases should not be sealed , just minors names other wise it only protects those that cheat the children out of their freedoms.

    It is simple kids are worth federal money to states and tribes take the money away takes the problems away!!!

  8. Doug Boes 2014.08.19

    "ANGELS" NEED YOUR HELP Facebook page by Angel Bluearm. ..

  9. Bill Fleming 2014.08.19

    Sounds good, Mr. Boes. Who do you invasion being the enforcing authority? i.e, by what power would your independent organization be able to follow through on its recommendations. Would there need to be a signed compulsory arbitration agreement among all interested parties (families, state, federal and tribal? And again, if so, what would be a person's recourse if the agreements are broken?)

  10. Troy 2014.08.19

    I don't pretend to know all the nuances of what is going on. All I know is that if the government (fed, state, tribal) acts precipitously when it believes a child is in imminent threat of harm, I prefer they err in action to protect the child. Death is permanent.

  11. Tara Volesky 2014.08.19

    Doug Boes said it all. He speaks for the victims. The State and Tribal Government have failed miserably. This has been going on for years. It's time for change.

  12. Bill Fleming 2014.08.19

    Ouch. That hurts, huh Kurtz?

  13. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.19

    I cannot see a need to establish an independent organization that will only add another layer of bureaucracy to an already encumbered process.
    At some point people need to start talking about state vs tribal jurisdiction and precisely how it affects their lives.
    Most people are aware of the state and tribal compacts that allow Indian gaming, these compacts also exist in other services provided by the state to the tribe, including DSS, tax collection, gas tax, etc.
    DSS is the funding mechanism for federal dollars that flow to the reservation and like I stated is governed by a compact.
    A part of this process has to include lobbying tribal councils to review and update the policies that affect our children and where necessary correct what is wrong. Until tribal members demand that tribal governments exercise their sovereignty, not much will change.
    Unlike Tara, I'm not too quick to condemn tribal councils since they have been sold a bill of goods by both the state and federal government and are often told what to do if they want to keep DSS services on the reservation.
    Tribes need to put in place the process of removing children from dangerous situations, that process needs to start in tribal court using the full powers of ICWA.
    I have never heard of a tribal council forcing any family or individual to live in a homeless shelter, was this done a council resolution or a tribal bill?
    And I'm not accepting that the press and Cory have not done enough to help expose this travesty imposed on tribal members. Local papers have provided a lot of coverage of ICWA for sometime now, and Cory has written about the problem quite extensively. The press doesn't change social problems, people do.
    If anyone wants to change the process, the first thing that needs to happen is to stop blaming. The second thing that needs to happen is to tell the stories of the children caught in this process.
    If you want to affect change, lobby your tribal councils and tell them your stories and suggest better processes, always keeping in mind the safety and security of the children. The tribal councils are holding the ball here and they can fix it.
    Don't rely on the state or federal government or our congressional delegation, they are part of the problem.

  14. Bill Fleming 2014.08.19

    Thank you Roger. Surely you know the territory far better than I do.

  15. Tara Volesky 2014.08.19

    Roger, Doug Boes will have to comment on that one. He was directly involved with the CRST tribal council. Doug probably knows how many children have died after being returned to their families.

  16. Shirley Schwab 2014.08.19

    Thank you Cory for posting this story. The significance of the DOJ's support regarding this federal class action lawsuit speaks volumes.

    Make no mistake of the significance of this ACLU/ICWA federal court action is being watched very closely on the national level with many 'eyes' on South Dakota Native American issues.

    For those of you taking time to comment, your posts and comments are vital as we keep this discussion and awareness going.

  17. Doug Boes 2014.08.19

    Roger some questions for you:
    1: Is there a compact between the state and Cheyenne River in regards to DSS? Or was it cancelled by the Tribe in order to be able to receive more Fed. dollars years ago and never put back together although , due to the fact that the Tribe was not doing what it needed to do to collect those funds and being that the state dss was being continually asked to be present in order to help the affected children yet not being able to recoup those expenses, a certain Governor had Dss assure that they were there to complete the requirements necessary to receive Fed. reimbursements for the tax S's that were being spent. And with there being no compact the tribe is in complete control of what happens to each child.
    2: Do you agree with ICWA.
    3: Have any children been hurt by following the Law?
    4: Is there a WCWA, or a BCWA, or a LCWA and if not is this not discrimination?
    5: Should the Childs welfare and safety be first priority, or should their culture? And if culture would that include all cultures within a child or just Native American Culture? And if that is the case would that not also be discrimination to every other culture in America?
    6. Is there corruption in State Government?
    7. Is there corruption in Tribal Government?
    8. Can you explain "Hunka Ceremony" as it relates to a childs culture?

  18. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.19

    Mr. Boes, by the tone and simplicity of some of your questions I feel that I have said something to offend you, that surely was not my intent. I'm on your side.
    I'm not familiar with the relationship between the CRST and the state and whether or not they have any existing compacts, other than gaming, with the state DSS.
    Yes I am familiar with ICWA and do agree with it, when allowed to work properly it the best tool Indian children have. A number of years ago my family had to use ICWA to protect grandchildren from being taken off the reservation by their white mother that had abandoned them.
    Corruption exist in all governments and at all levels, there are no exceptions, but as taxpayers or tribal members we don't have to accept it.
    My suggestion is to empower tribal governments to put in place a process that protects children from sometime abusive parents and at the same time keeping these children on the reservation, perhaps with friends or family.
    Children that are tribal members and reside on the reservation should never be at the mercy of state jurisdiction.
    Like I said, I don't know the status of CRST and state compacts, but if I had a child lost in this system I'd sure be finding out and doing something about it.
    Whether you like it or not, agree with it disagree, tribal councils are what we have, all too often they don't recognize the real authority they have. Sovereignty is not just a word Mr. Boes, it needs to be action.
    For those that know me, I don't just complain, I try my best to seek solutions and that prompted to comment about the role compacts play in tribal government.
    I don't know if one exist, but is there a state or national advocacy group that is dealing with this particular problem? The burden is on you and others in your situation to bring about change and have your children returned to you, all most of us can do is to be supportive.

  19. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.08.19

    Good to hear from you Ms. Schwab.

    It's always encouraging to be reminded of how many people are willing to go to bat for children. Many people are on your side. Be encouraged!

  20. Doug Boes 2014.08.19

    Roger I suggest that you and everyone on this thread look at the Facebook Page titled "ANGELS" NEED YOUR HELP by Angel Bluearm. .. And then Google -Three Angels by Gaddy- on utube. And then I would appreciate your insight on why and how you can support what you say you do. Thank You. The Children be the reason.

  21. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.20

    Mr. Boes,
    I took the time to watch the Three Angels story on youtube and read the Angels Need Your Help Facebook page. It was interesting an compelling story.
    Are you and your wife members of CRST? That wasn't clear.
    Now that I have heard your side of the story, I'd like to hear or read the other side. Do you have any suggestions where I can find an opposing view?
    The other thing that wasn't clear was whether or not you have custody of the children and are they in your home?

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.20

    Tara, no: we can legitimately say that both the state and Chad Haber are corrupt and malfeasant. Don't give me this "instead" business. Haber's exploitation of the children with his sham candidacy make it harder for us to focus on solving the issue.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.20

    Hey, Doug, back off. Provide me documentation to substantiate your claims, and we rock and roll. Otherwise, it sounds like you're trying to drag me into the middle of a we-said/they-said family conflict, and down that road lies trouble. You asked me to go to a homeless shelter and interrogate a woman I don't know about private family affairs that are none of my business. I still don't know under what pretext or authority I could justify such an action.

    And while I appreciate the patience and thoughtfulness of the questions Roger is offering you to address your situation, you and Tara need to not come here and hijack posts to promote your personal agendae. The point here is that U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson is working to address corruption and abuse in South Dakota's treatment of Indian families. That's great. Johnson and the ACLU are using ICWA to bring justice to some Indian families. That's great. If your family has a problem (and it may well, and it may well deserve a blog post of its own, if we see documents proving it), the solution is not to rely on Chad Haber or the Libertarians for publicity; that will bring you nothing but discredit among the public and ultimately abandonment or betrayal from Haber. The solution is not to say ICWA is discrimination against white folks and that we should get rid of ICWA; that will leave lots of Indian families with no defense against the state's racist predations. The solution is to talk to U.S. Attorney Johnson and work to root out corruption in tribal government.

  24. Tara Volesky 2014.08.20

    Cory, that's why cases like Doug's are not being addressed. Public officials don't care about the children. Just look what happened to the Mette case. I hope Haber exploits the Hell out of these cases so people will understand what's happening.

  25. Lynn 2014.08.20

    Tara an association with Haber and those that hijacked the SDLP is toxic no matter how you spin it. Those victims out there are being taken for a ride and used which will just add to the tragedy. Once the election is over do you really think they will still be working to help these victims? Highly doubtful unless there is money or some other personal gain to be made off them!

  26. Tara Volesky 2014.08.20

    I don't care who's name is on the AG ticket, if Haber will expose these horrendous cases and help get those children back, I am sure the Boes family would be eternally grateful. Lynn, I did a little research into Annette Bosworth, and she has helped the poor and needy and turns nobody away just because they don't have any money. What kind of people did Jesus use?

  27. Lynn 2014.08.20

    Tara at the very least the press and public will most likely ignore or dismiss anything having to do with Haber, Stranahan, Bosworth and gang with all the negative publicity that has been out there for months. I'm talking South Dakotans and not out of state facebook followers.

    Time will tell with what happens in the legal system in regards to Bosworth and Haber. Besides the election fraud charges against Bosworth her former employees are still challenging her in court.

  28. Tara Volesky 2014.08.20

    Lynn, if Chad is smart, he will have Annette with him everywhere he goes. The media loves her. They showed up when Brady Folkens Mom spoke at his press conference. I wonder if Brady's Mom thinks Chad and Annette are evil. People though I was crazy believing Haber would get on the ballot. He must have followed the law because Jason Gant and the GOP did everything possible to keep him off the ballot. Not even a court case. They wouldn't even let Hubbel on the ballot, but they let Haber????? Heaven forbid.

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.20

    Tara, how many times do I have to tell you: Haber will not help you. Haber gets in the way of credibly exposing the real corruption in South Dakota's foster care system. Drop it, focus, and stop making excuses for a man who makes a mockery of the justice and democracy we are fighting for.

    Your real allies are Brendan Johnson, the ACLU, and to a much smaller extent, me.

  30. Doug Boes 2014.08.20

    Cory first of all send me an email address and I will send you the docs, which will include the letters from this ladies own niece and sister pleading with the Tribe not to have her anywhere around the children due to their own knowledge. And I talked with Mr. Johnston several months ago, in fact it was the day that I was at a debate in Kyle, he seemed very concerned and made a few calls and then called me back to say that there was nothing he could do because it was a Tribal case. The opposing side... the opposing side is the grandmother who has the children living in a shelter after spending their money and a Lawyer named Danna Hanna who works for ACLU . He did a good job protecting the "Rights" of the grandmother .. but took every right away from the children and their entire family. Just one question I understand that the interviewing was not appropriate but did you after being notified about this even drive by as a concerned citizen? I have never met you Cory but you are welcome into my home anytime, I would love to show you everything and discuss the safety of all children with you. Just so it is clear My wife and I are not CRST members, and we have not had contact with the children since we and the mothers family had a one hour visit with them on Jan. 16th , where we were informed that it would be a goodbye visit and that we could not take pictures of the children due to their conditions, after raising them and loving them for 3.5 yrs. Maybe you could listen to the Voice message from the tribal prosecutor that the Aunt received the night before court telling her not to bother coming because the outcome was determined. And just so you know we have already been informed that if the children went back into state custody at anytime they would not be placed with us because we are fighting for them, I guess that treating children like children and loving them enough to fight for their safety is wrong in the states eyes, but we continue to fight for them because they need to be safe...

  31. Tara Volesky 2014.08.20

    Politicians and bureaucrats don't get anything done, they just pretend. It didn't take Texas long to indict their Governor.

  32. mike fro iowa 2014.08.20

    Took Texas 14 years to indict Perry. That is a long time.

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.20

    Arrrgghh! Tara! Enough with the distractions and empty aphorisms. I am a politician. So is everyone who engages in civic affairs. Politicians get things done. And right now, Brendan Johnson and the ACLU are working to get things done for Lakota families.

  34. Shirley Schwab 2014.08.20


    I attended the Human Trafficking Conference in Sioux Falls last week sponsored by Avera and SD USA Brendan Johnson and ND USA Timothy Purdon. Absolutely amazing!!

    My respect and appreciation for both Brendan and Tim has increased a great deal as I witnessed first hand their expertise, commitment and compassion for young victims of child sexual abuse including other horrors beyond imagine that are taking place right here in the Dakotas.

    I have worked for nearly 20 years advocating for the rights of Native American children and anyone who has worked in this profession is acutely aware of the significance of the DOJ's involvement and support with the ACLU/ICWA civil lawsuit.

    It is not helping South Dakota children (especially Native American children) to minimize the work of USA Brendan Johnson and his staff during this historic event regarding SD ICWA being challenged at the federal court level.

    I am in regular contact with National ACLU and the importance of the work they are currently doing must be supported by everyone in our state who wants to be a part of 'system change' in South Dakota.

    Please recognize, celebrate and support what has just happened due to SD USA Brendon Johnson and his staff which can best be described as:

    A Game Changer.

  35. Doug Boes 2014.08.20

    Shirley simply stated -read my last post how can any human support what was done to these babies ... seriously ACLU lawyer was the lawyer .... please NEVER ask me to support this form of hyprocracy!

  36. Lisa Morris 2014.08.20

    Attorney General Tim Purdon, the DOJ, the ACF, the BIA and many tribal governments have been ignoring and hiding the rampant sexual and physical abuse of children for years. This has been coming out through the investigations of the murders on the Spirit Lake Reservation, which is widely but quietly known to be a microcosm of what is happening on many reservations.

    Those of you who say "white people" don't have a stake in this are absolutely wrong. That very statement is racist to the core.

    1. That statement is based on the assumption that all the children in question are 100% Native American and have lived solely within the confines of the reservation.

    WRONG. MOST of the children who are subject to ICWA are MULTI-CULTURAL - and the vast majority of THOSE children are less than 50% Native American. This means they have FAR MORE relatives that are non-native than they have relatives that are native. For anyone to say that the non-native relatives are irrelevant is racist to the core.

    2. The statement is based on the assumption that ALL persons of heritage - including those of 100% heritage - WANT the reservation system. They WANT to live within it and raise their children in it, and that they will be less of a person, less of a Native American, if they do not.

    WRONG. Not every person of heritage wants the same things. Surprise! They are individuals with their own thoughts, feelings, needs and desires! Even individuals, children and families who are 100% Native American have a constitutional right in the Unites States to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! They are also guaranteed Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Press, Speech and Assembly. They are supposed to be able to choose their own political associations, friends, church as well as choose where they want to live and raise their families.
    For anyone to deny a fellow U.S. citizen the right to disengage from the reservation system, live the lifestyle of their own choosing, and have their children raised in the lifestyle of their own choosing is Racist to the Core.

    - And yet this is what our federal government - and those who defend the ICWA - are saying and doing. They are oppressing and hurting fellow citizens by dictating who they should be, how they should live, and how their children should be raised.

    You want documentation as to how and why all supporters of ICWA are dead wrong? I will share it in the following note -

  37. Shirley Schwab 2014.08.20


    What attorney was representing the children's best interests in the case you are talking about? Do these children currently have legal representation?

  38. bearcreekbat 2014.08.20

    Here is a link to ICWA:

    The declared policy of the law is:

    "The Congress hereby declares that it is the policy of this Nation to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and the placement of such children in foster or adoptive homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture, and by providing for assistance to Indian tribes in the operation of child and family service programs."

    Lisa, I wonder what part of that policy do you find objectionable?

  39. Lisa Morris 2014.08.20

    I am having trouble posting the links to documentation. This site doesn't like a lot of links. So I will try posting them one by one -

  40. Lisa Morris 2014.08.20

    We have video stories from several families, from several reservations, and several states. Sage's story is a very good example of what is happening across the country.

    What Doug Boes has been trying to tell you is a very good example of what is happening in South Dakota. It is a CLASSIC example.

    Finally – have none of you read the NPR ombudsman report citing how terrible the supposed “investigative” series on SD ICWA was? Here it is if you hadn’t read it –
    SD: Indian Foster Care 1: NPR Investigative Storytelling Gone Awry
    National Public Radio Ombudsman - August 09, 2013
    My finding is that the series was deeply flawed and should not have been aired as it was.
    Full NPR Ombudsman Report:

  41. Lisa Morris 2014.08.20

    1) According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country – and many have deliberately taken their children and left in order to protect their families from the rampant crime and corruption. IT IS PARENTS WHO ARE TAKING MOST OF THE KIDS AWAY FROM THE REZ – NOT SOCIAL SERVICES.

    2) The abuses at Spirit Lake in North Dakota are well known, but it is also known that Spirit Lake is just a microcosm of what’s happening on reservations across the country.

    3) Gang activity involving drugs is heavy and rampant on many reservations. There are children dying within Indian Country whose names don't make it to the media - and for whom justice is never given.

    4) These abuses are rampant on many reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.

    5) Many, many times more children leave the reservation system in the company of their parents – who have mass exited – than do children who have been taken into foster care or found a home in adoption. But tribal leaders can’t admit parents are consciously taking their kids out of Indian Country in attempt to get them away from the reservation system and corrupt leaders. It makes a better sound bite to blame it on evil social services.

    Across America, kids who had never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs have been removed from homes they love and placed with strangers chosen by tribal governments.

    The Indian Child Welfare Act is harming kids all across the U.S. as courts and tribes place tribal sovereignty above the needs of children.

    DOI and the BIA have been shown to have mishandled millions of dollars in tribal funds, and tribal governments receive more money per head, as much of the federal funds tribal governments receive are based on the tribal membership numbers or the U.S. census;

    Tribal gov’ts receive more money per head, as federal funds are based on number of members.

    CAICW has received hundreds of letters from families across the country asking for help.

    When a child become involved in a custody proceeding, Social services asks if they have any tribal heritage. If they do, the Tribal government is notified. Tribal gov’t can many times choose to become involved. In some cases, even if a child had miniscule heritage and has never had contact with tribal government.

    • Families have felt threatened by tribal gov’t. Some have had to mortgage homes to protect their kids.

    • Some who have had no money or house to mortgage have not been able to protect their kids.

    • Kids have been removed from safe, loving homes and placed into danger.

    Our children have been collateral damage in DC's ongoing political games for far too long.

  42. Lisa Morris 2014.08.20


    Further - I find it profoundly objectionable and extremely offensive that YOU appear to assume you know what is better for our family than we do!

  43. Doug Boes 2014.08.20

    Shirley the children did not then or now have legal representation because tribal court would not allow. A guardia ad litum was appointed who was deep seated friends with the grandma. From the day she was appointed till one day before court she conveniently dissappered on vacation. Not one person besides the grandma was visited not the two counselors (against) not the teachers (against) not cps (against) not relatives (against) not ICWA director (against) not hunka family (against) so the day prior to hearing the family went to her and voiced their opinions which prompted a voice message from tribal.prosicuter telling family not to bother coming up. At court the guardian Margaret Bad warrior became grandmas lawyer thru state out and gave grandma the. Babies.

  44. bearcreekbat 2014.08.20

    Lisa, slow down a bit. All I did was link to the law so folks could review it for their comments. I don't think I gave my opinion one way or the other about ICWA nor about whether the law should have been enacted.

    Since you expressed strong opinions, I wondered what part of the policy that Congress expressed you found objectionable. The stated policy of protecting the best interests of Indian children seemed consistent with your arguments, as it appeared you also want what is best for these kids.

    Congress also made some findings. Remember, these are the words of the statute, not my personal opinion:

    "(3) that there is no resource that is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children and that the United States has a direct interest, as trustee, in protecting Indian children who are members of or are eligible for membership in an Indian tribe;"

    Do you disagree with this finding?

    "(4) that an alarmingly high percentage of Indian families are broken up by the removal, often unwarranted, of their children from them by nontribal public and private agencies and that an alarmingly high percentage of such children are placed in non-Indian foster and adoptive homes and institutions;"

    Do you disagree with this finding?

    And I imagine that you would support the removal of an Indian child from his or her home if it was established by "clear and convincing evidence," which I believe is the Constitutionally required showing, that the child was in imminent danger of harm.

    Congress does not make these determinations, rather, local judges do based on whatever evidence is presented to them. And the presumption is that the children should first be returned to the parents if this can be done safely. If not, ICWA requires the children are to be placed with an extended family member, such as a grandparent, if this can be done safely. See 25 U.S. Code § 1915. ICWA never requires, nor even permits, a judge to place a child in an unsafe situation. As best as I can tell, Congress has not second guessed what is best for your kids and grandkids, rather they left that to state and tribal court judges.

  45. Shirley Schwab 2014.08.20


    I do not know why or how an alleged abused and/or neglected child (or children) do not receive legal representation in this type of action taking place in tribal court.

    In SD State court, statute is specific about children in an abuse and neglect action being entitled to legal representation throughout the entire abuse and neglect process. That statute also states a guardian ad litem or court appointed special advocate may also be appointed to represent the child's best interest throughout the court process.

  46. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.20

    Every story has two sides, so far we have only heard one side, Mr. Boes has also told the other side of the story, so we don't really have an opposing opinion. We are left with it is true because I said it is.
    If it had not been for ICWA a number of years ago my niece and nephew would have ended up in the custody of a irresponsible nomadic non-Indian and living in poverty. At the time, all you had to be was white to win a custody case in South Dakota. The chief judge of the OST that handled our case was at the same flying to Denver to retain custody of 3 Indian children that were adopted by an abusive "Christian" family. ICWA worked in that case and it worked in ours. Our case in tribal court was not without its problems, another judge, that hated my family, continuously tried to intervene on behalf of the non-Indian mother. It took nearly 3 years to resolve the case in our favor. The children are now grown and productive members of society.
    ICWA is for families like mine, that relied on the law and supported by the courts.
    Not a ICWA decisions are bad, most of the time people think ICWA is a bad law because it hasn't worked in their favor, that includes Indian and non-Indian families. Every case affected by ICWA is individual and should be handled as such.
    I sent the implication that all tribal governments, tribal courts, and tribal council members are corrupt and uncaring about Indian children, they are not
    Yes, some tribes and council are corrupt, but it is not wholesale corruption as is being implied with some posts.
    If you choose to make the declaration of corrupt tribal governments you had better be prepared to support it with documentation.
    It has been mentioned that the process of foster care and adoptions of Indian children is a huge ATM that benefits the state and foster parents. Let's talk money!
    From what I could in the Three Angels video, Mr. Boes has all Indian foster children, I don't know that he has adopted any of them.
    My question is this, how much does the state pay per month for children in foster care?
    Again, it would be nice to hear the other side of this story from an independent source.

  47. bearcreekbat 2014.08.20

    I saw some comments about attorneys for children subject to abuse and neglect proceedings. ICWA is pretty clear on that requirement.

    Under ICWA a tribal judge does not have the authority to deny a child an attorney. Likewise, the tribal judge is not required to give a child a court appointed attorney. Instead the judge has the authority to appoint an attorney for the child if the judge finds that this is in the child's best interest. If the judge determines that the parents are indigent, he or she is required to appoint counsel for the parents. See 25 U.S. Code § 1912.

  48. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.20

    bear. it would be helpful to see the judge's order denying legal representation to the children. The cases I'm familiar with were children that had no family to represent them in court and then the tribal judge would appoint them council.
    Naturally, this may not be the process used by all tribes, but I would expect that there would be precedent established.

  49. bearcreekbat 2014.08.20

    Roger, I think you made the best observation when you said: "Every case affected by ICWA is individual and should be handled as such." Without knowledge of the individual facts of each case it is difficult to assess whether a judge has made appropriate rulings on any issue.

    Personally, I would have preferred that ICWA required the appointment of an attorney for children in all A & N cases. Such an attorney could assure that all procedures designed to protect the child and reunite the child with his or her family are followed. The attorney could move for relevant testing to determine the child's medical and physical needs. This is just two examples, but there are many more positive functions for an attorney representing a child in an A & N case. I am disappointed Congress did not make this a requirement.

  50. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.20

    Appointing an attorney for each child caught in these custody cases would be ideal. I suspect that that requirement would be too costly, just guessing on that. Cost be damned, children's rights need to be protected during these court cases.
    When we went through the custody trial I referred to, DSS assigned a casework to make sure the health and safety of the children were protected. We endured numerous home visits, background checks, etc., and in fact welcomed them.
    Another ICWA case I was involved in, the judge issued an order stating that he would look out for the legal rights of the child.

  51. Shirley Schwab 2014.08.20

    And there lies the serious problem - children caught up in a Tribal Court legal system due to abuse and/or neglect by their parents or guardian and no one is appointed to assure their legal rights are represented not to mention the best interest of the child or children.

    Very, very sad.

  52. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.20

    What do you suggest as a solution, Shirley?

  53. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.20

    Good grief. Ms. Morris, back up and review the specific request I made. Mr. Boes complained that I had done nothing with a lead he offered. He leveled charges relating to his very specific family situation. I asked for documentation substantiating that specific situation. Your documentation, while informative about ICWA and other issues, does not offer details about Mr. Boes's specific situation nor explain what my obligation is to take the action he thought I should have.

  54. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.20

    (And for the record, I like lots of links; my comment filter gets a bit twitchy if too many are included. You adapted well.)

  55. Shirley Schwab 2014.08.21


    I do not have the answers or solutions for what is happening in Tribal courts.

    I do however believe that children are entitled to the same legal representation as the adults involved in the court process. Their constitutional rights and due process should be represented by qualified counsel at each and every court proceeding.

    It is also my belief that children (Tribal or State courts) should be represented by qualified attorneys who actually take the time to not only read their files and actively investigate but it should also be the responsibility of the children's attorney to meet with them (their clients) on a regular basis.

    Once again, children should and must be entitled to the same legal representation as adults in A&N court proceedings.

    It is through this proper legal representation that the attorney can then inform the court along with making an informed recommendation regarding the children's best interest.

    How this will be incorporated at the Tribal court level, I do not have that answer.

    The cost of legal representation does cost money but then so does the physical and emotional damage caused to children who suffer from abuse and neglect by parents or guardians.

  56. Tara Volesky 2014.08.21

    Family mediators are cheaper and sometimes more effective than attorneys.

  57. Shirley Schwab 2014.08.21


    However, who will appoint, who will pay for that service and how will their involvement/recommendations become a part of the court proceeding?

    I believe this may work in addition to but I maintain that every child in an A&N action must have qualified legal representation. Our laws are so complex that acute knowledge of the laws in abuse and neglect proceedings is essential for the children involved. It simply is their right to have an attorney appointed to represent their best interests.

    These are young alleged victims of alleged child abuse. Therefor as victims, they must have their rights legally represented.

  58. Tara Volesky 2014.08.21

    The laws are written to give the power to the Tribal councils instead of doing what is in the best interest of the children.

  59. Tara Volesky 2014.08.21

    They have court appointed mediators just like they have court appointed attorneys. Attorneys are experts in the law, but mediators do what's in the best interest of the families and children. Sometimes the law is not in the best interest of the children.

  60. bearcreekbat 2014.08.21

    Dakota Plains Legal Services serves low income families on all of South Dakota's reservations. DPLS is funded primarily by the federal Legal Services Corporation. I suspect a tribal court could ask DPLS to represent children at no cost in A&N proceedings, while appointing private attorneys to represent the parents.

  61. Doug Boes 2014.08.21

    Dakota legal is also under control of tribal politicians.. Shirley exactly every child in America has freedoms and guarantees that need to be protected........ we definitely agree.

  62. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.21

    Shirley, thank you for the comments that suggest a positive resolution to the problems with legal representation for children, rather just slinging mud.
    It is a travesty that these children are without legal representation. I'm not quite sure of how to go about changing the process now in place, but I would think lobbying our congressional delegation to change that part of ICWA would be a start.
    It would else help tremendously to share your concerns with tribal governments, I doubt there would be little, if any, opposition to that kinds of modification.
    As I state previously, I have had direct experience with ICWA and that the law worked favorably for our family. When I read ICWA way back when, I don't call any specific provisions where tribal councils were directly involved in tribal custody cases. ICWA seems to give authority to tribal courts and not tribal governments, has that changed?
    And like bear stated, DPLS is not controlled or governed by tribal politicians or tribal governments.
    I would advice caution when advocating changes to ICWA, not abolishing it, and speak to facts and not generalities Continually attacking all tribal representatives and tribal governments as corrupt and uncaring for children is not helpful. The ACLU, tribal governments, and even ICWA itself should serve as a positive avenue to ensuring children have legal representation in all custody cases.
    My comments here are not to provoke an argument, they are a search for the truth from all sides of the controversy and to find solutions for change.

  63. Shirley Schwab 2014.08.21


    Thank you for your kind words. I have fought hard for the rights of children and have spent many years providing a voice for those children who did not have one.

    Please know that I support and very much believe in ICWA and what it stands for and why it was enacted federally in 1977.

    Unfortunately so many people (professionals) working in the child abuse system do not fully understand or interpret this federal mandate as it was meant to be.

    That is why the ICWA/ACLU civil lawsuit is so important because it focuses on the 48-hour hearing in abuse and neglect cases. It is also my belief and experience that the 48-hour hearing of each and every abuse and neglect case is the most important court action of an entire A&N court process.

    I also realize tribal leaders, administration and staff are on over-load due to so many different types of issues or concerns they must deal with on a daily basis and we cannot sit back and play the blame-game because in doing so, nothing changes.

    I support education, awareness and empowerment when working with the tribes because I truly believe they want to do what is right for all of their children - both on and off their particular reservation.

    It is a complex social concern with so much at stake and if only we had the answers to lessen this problem.

  64. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.21

    Thank you for the thought provoking, assertive, positive approach you have taken. Anything less damages your cause and jeopardizes the safety of children. If adults continually argue about who is right or wrong, how can the children receive the justice they deserve?
    That is one reason tribes should be warned about Chad Haber and his candidacy for attorney general. He should be allowed to ride into office on the backs of tragedies these children suffer. Yes, he can be useful in housing his mouthpiece Stranahan in getting this all important out, but his intentions are questionable.

  65. Shirley Schwab 2014.08.21


    I have always maintained the children I have advocated for over the years are non-political and that has remained by stance as well and will remain so.

    The problem with political exploitation of horrific child abuse victims is concerning due to the format being used as a platform along with the many false or inaccurate statements that are being portrayed as true.

  66. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.21

    Absolutely right Shirley, and well stated.

    When misinformation, exaggerations, and lies dominate this issue it calls into validity of the real problems that exist with the system that is designed to protect children People will put on their tin foil hats and so "another conspiracy" and pay it no mind.
    The truth and reality of what these children suffer and are subjected to in courts is reality enough. Half truths and name calling have never solved anything, and they will only hinder your attempts at justice for them.
    Children are not, and should never be political pawns for opportunist politicians.
    Thank you for the work you do, I only wish there was more I could do to assist you.

  67. Tara Volesky 2014.08.22

    How is ICWA working for the Boes family and the children who have died. Check the obituaries over the last several months in the Mobridge Tribune. I have many Native American friends that agree with me. How is ICWA working in the Spirit Lake Tribe in ND. Lisa Morris is an expert and has been fighting for Native American Children since 1994. She and her late husband are the founders of Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare.

  68. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.22

    Today Mike Myers could not produce promised FBI reports about the Benda investigation, Montgomery reported that Myers assertions were unverifiable or non-existent.

    Now you come over here making claims about children dying because of ICWA and provide no evidence or facts about abuse. Produce some documentation about what you are talking about.

    Shirley and I were having a productive discussion about how to remedy some of the problems with ICWA and trying to foster some common ground that would best serve and protect Indian children.

    The Myers campaign is suffering from a serious credibility problem Tara, and you are in part responsible for that.

    Quit making Shirley's work more difficult with your unfounded and undocumented claims. So and so agrees or so and said is hardly evidence that can bring about needed change.

  69. Tara Volesky 2014.08.22

    I hate politics, no use talking about this. It is going nowhere. good night.

  70. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.22

    ICWA and foster care abuse are going somewhere, and there is use in the ACLU and Brendan Johnson talking about it. They are doing good that the other actors I name in the original post will not.

  71. larry kurtz 2014.08.22

    For the record: NPR backed the report and eschewed the Schumacher-Matos opinion.

  72. larry kurtz 2014.08.22

    Laura Sullivan recently tweeted me that she is following the ICWA story and its relationship to Bendagate very closely.

  73. larry kurtz 2014.08.22

    Btw, nearly everyone who is anyone at NPR follows me on twitter: the spit has hit the fan.

  74. Shirley Schwab 2014.08.22

    Brandon Taliaferro and I risked everything to fight for injustices being done to Native American children. Exposing ICWA violations by the State was a big part of those injustices.

    It cost us $250,000 to fight the malicious prosecution brought against us by the State of SD along with months and months of living in fear of our lives. Yet we kept fighting for those injustices to Native American children during those months and continue to do so today.

    I spent time last summer working with the US Department of Justice and I will state it one more time:

    The ACLU/ICWA lawsuit and USA Brendan Johnson amicus brief in support of, is the biggest and most significant event regarding Native American children issues that has yet to happen in South Dakota concerning ICWA law violations.

    ICWA is important and effective and it works - if all parties involved (including state and tribal officials) adhere and follow the ICWA federal mandate. It doesn't work when that does not happen - both on and off the reservation.

    Bottom line - parents/guardians need to stop abusing their children. If that would happen - we would not be having this conversation.

    I am passionate about my work and passionate about the fact there must be accountability by those who are not protecting children and their rights.

    The ACLU/ICWA lawsuit is making a lot of traction in federal court and will assist with exposing what is happening in South Dakota regarding Native American children - nationally.

    This must be done and it is something I have been working toward for years and hoping would happen.

    I believe the best is yet to come :)

  75. Tara Volesky 2014.08.22

    I just don't believe that Tribal Governments that are corrupt should have jurisdiction over a child and dictate where the child ends up. The rights of the Boes family were taken away from them because they are white. Who cares what the color of your skin is, do what's in the best interest of the children. They were taken away by the Tribal Council after being with the Boes family for 3 1/2 years and nobody has helped them, so by getting the video out so people can see it, maybe the Tribal Council will be convicted into giving the children back to their real parents. Doug and Candi Boes. I don't like following laws when it comes to children. What happen before ICWA came into existence. Seems like another level of bureaucracy. I think a lot of Natives would like to boot them all out including the BIA. Would the Tribes be fighting for these laws and children if there weren't millions and millions of dollars involved.

  76. bearcreekbat 2014.08.22

    "maybe the Tribal Council will be convicted into giving the children back to their real parents"

    I don't think this is an ICWA issue. As I understand the law, any parent, whether Native or not, has the legal right to the return of his or her children from foster care if that parent is rehabilitated and the Court finds he or she can now provide a safe home for the children. This is true under state law and it matters not how happy the children are in foster care nor how long they have been in foster care. Unless a Court terminates a parent's parental rights that parent - whether Native or not - always is considered the best placement for natural children if the parent is fit and capable of providing a safe home.

    What ICWA was designed to do is limit the foster care placement of Native children in non-Native households. Thus ICWA says that if there are two qualified foster homes, one Native and one white, Indian children are to be placed temporarily in the Native household until a Court determines whether the natural parents can get their act together. ICWA requires states to look for qualified Native foster care parents rather than always placing Native kids in easier to find non-Indian households.

  77. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.22


    TRIBAL COUNCILS, CORRUPT OR OTHERWISE, DO NOT ADMINISTER ICWA, TRIBAL COURTS DO, what is hard to understand about that? Do you understand the separation of powers in government, Tara?
    I'm starting to wonder if Tara actual read this original thread, or has she in typical fashion decided to just start striking out?
    Tara, do you agree with Shirley?

  78. Tara Volesky 2014.08.22

    Roger, I am more concerned for the people on the reservation that don't have a voice. I believe they are being oppressed by the Tribal, State and Federal Government. I am all for the empowerment of the Native American people. There is to much talent on the reservation that is being wasted. Let the people and respected elders come together. I think they can make better decisions and accomplish more than some of the Tribal councils. Just give them a voice without fear of retribution.

  79. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.22

    Let us return to the day of yesteryear, the biggest single reason that resulted in ICWA was that religious organizations, particularly the Mormon Church, were removing children from their parents and given to adoptive families all around the country. The religious groups all promised the parents and family that the children could return for visits anytime and made the promise of a better life and a better education. If you live in hopeless poverty, who wouldn't want something better for their children.
    As it turned out, some of these children whereabouts have never been accounted, many ran away to parts unknown.
    The children that were accounted for reported systematic physical abuse, sexual abuse, religious indoctrination, and denied children any association with their cultural identity.
    To some degree this still happens, only under the name of foster care or adoptions. Indian kids have become a source of income for many unfit and abusive non-Native foster and adoptive families. Imagine this, these children were removed from their families because of abusive parents and poor living conditions only to be placed in the same situation off the reservation.
    Tribal courts, not tribal councils, have the absolute authority and responsibility to account for tribal members on or off the reservation. Further, children that live on the reservation should never be removed or transfered to a state jurisdiction, 48 hours means nothing, they should never be removed until the issue is settled in a tribal jurisdiction and the continued health and safety of the child is insured. The length of time a foster parent has a native child in their home does not translate to ownership.
    So many native children in this state have become a cash cow, without receiving any benefits.

  80. bearcreekbat 2014.08.22

    Roger, from what I recall your description of the history and what lead Congress to enact ICWA is right on the money. I also recall more than one incidence of non-Native foster families being charged with abuse of foster kids, in some cases the abuse was extensive and particularly horrible.

  81. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.08.22

    I note that when Roger makes a direct response or clarification to something Tara has written, she then turns away from that, without acknowledging the correction. Here is an example:

    Tara - "I just don't believe that Tribal Governments that are corrupt should have jurisdiction over a child and dictate where the child ends up."

    Roger - "TRIBAL COUNCILS, CORRUPT OR OTHERWISE, DO NOT ADMINISTER ICWA, TRIBAL COURTS DO, what is hard to understand about that?"

    Tara - "Roger, I am more concerned for the people on the reservation that don't have a voice."

    What I've cited is not isolated. Tara, I'm not making this statement to anger you. You've complained about problems with conversations here. That's a good share of the reason why. It's not enough to simply complain, attack, shift focus, etc. It's important to listen too. So when you are not responsive to the give and take, it does really seem disjointed.

    In fact, you have been responded to on each post that you've commented on. That you have not heard or liked the response seems to be why you express frustration.

    Take the things I've said into account and you will probably have more productive interactions. Good luck.

  82. grudznick 2014.08.22

    Ms. Volesky, the very observant young lady has some really good points. I myself may consider them as well, in case I may learn from them.

  83. Tara Volesky 2014.08.22

    Thanks for the advice Deb. When I was in school my teachers would always get on me for not following directions. Sometimes it's hard for me to focus.

  84. Tara Volesky 2014.08.22

    Grudz, I need all the help I can get. Thanks.

  85. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.08.22

    Tara, I want to give you credit for taking my comment in the spirit I intended. Good for you.

    And thanks Grudz. But I'm still not marrying you. Yet.

  86. Doug Boes 2014.08.22

    Bearcat---Why do you feel it necessary to attack foster parents? Are you saying that foster parents are all terrible people? I find it tragic that the topic always gets brought up about the horrible foster parents... I agree with you there have been horrible foster parents {not just non-native as your post says} but take it under thought that there are reasons that require children to have foster parents. Have there been bad parents throughout history and today from every culture that have done horrible things, have there been bad grandparents, have there been bad relatives'? My point is foster parents are an easy target since that is not a "Natural Occurrence". But I would like your thoughts , are there good foster parents? Have numerous children been affected greatly by the love and safety that foster parents have given them? Is it just Non-Native foster parents that have had horrible accusations leveled against them or caretakers of every race? Have you ever talked to a child who reached adulthood and who still relies on their foster parents to be their parent figure because they actually love and respect each other. Have you ever helped a child who needed a bed, a roof, a meal, a ride, a shoulder, an advocate, or just a conversation? That is what a foster parent does, the same things as parents whom for whatever reasons cannot. And by attacking all FOSTER PARENTS you are placing every child that has ever been raised by someone other then the two people who created them into a category of HORRIBLE ACTS, and that I will not accept. Have you ever heard of the term "Hunka" ceremony? I have been a part of lots of children's lives over the past thirty years since the birth of my oldest, including friends of theirs who just needed a couch to sleep on for a night or an adult to talk to. And I have been a parent to my own three children whom have all and will continue to be roll models in this world. I have also and currently the father of four of the best children in the world who because of no fault of their own needed a safe place to call home, and whom think of us as their parents and whom also will always be roll models in this world. I can go on and on and on . But seriously for once would everyone commenting on here and everywhere else think about the children! And stop bashing everyone else's politics and views, that along with the scoop for the Almighty dollar seems to always take precedence over the children. I will tell you all that every child in and from every race is different, and so every child's case is different. They don't care if you are for or against ICWA or any other law, they could care less who our new governor will be, or if they are white, native, black, Chinese, Latino, or any other race when they are alone, scared and hungry. That is what should be the focus of talks here , not politics or dollars. Rant over.....

  87. Candi Boes 2014.08.23

    Well said Doug, every child needs and deserves to have a happy, loving, and safe childhood. It shouldn't matter what race the parents or child are, if it does then you certainly have some issues. My little girl gave the perfect answer when I asked her what is the difference between her and I. She answered with "Nothing god made us all the same"

  88. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.23

    You're taking this policy discussion too personally, Doug. That's a problem.

  89. Tara Volesky 2014.08.23

    Cory, how would you like it someone took your children away after having them for 3 1/2 years. The best foster parents I have ever known were my mother-in-law and Doug and Candi Boes. This should be taken very personally. It is destroying the children. Thank God for Foster Parents no matter the skin color. Doug, Candi and My Mother and Father-in-law always had a relationship with the children's biological relatives. That's the way it should be. Just talk to the Angels biological mother. Why isn't she getting any justice? She want's her children with the Boes family. This is insane. Laws, laws, laws. WTH.

  90. larry kurtz 2014.08.23

    How much money does the state get from the feds to arrange these relationships and how much does the industry get from the state?

  91. larry kurtz 2014.08.23

    and who pays the lawyers?

  92. Tara Volesky 2014.08.23

    I just have a very hard time trusting politicians from Washington that turn over millions of dollars to organizations that deal with children. I was involved in a huge corruption scandal. Tried for months to report it, and nobody would listen including the local media, and the mayor and city commission.

  93. Tara Volesky 2014.08.23

    Larry, it's one of SD biggest industries. Cash for kids. The prison system is also a big money maker for SD.

  94. bearcreekbat 2014.08.23

    Doug, thanks for your comment. I apologize for not being more careful in my language as I did not intend to condemn all foster parents. To answer a few of your questions:

    "are there good foster parents?"

    Absolutely. In fact, I view foster parents in general as some of the kindest most sharing people in our world!

    "Have numerous children been affected greatly by the love and safety that foster parents have given them?"

    I would suspect most children have been positively affected by the love of their foster parents.

    "Is it just Non-Native foster parents that have had horrible accusations leveled against them or caretakers of every race?"

    Nope, such accusations have been made against caretakers of every race, including Natives.

    "Have you ever talked to a child who reached adulthood and who still relies on their foster parents to be their parent figure because they actually love and respect each other."

    Yes, I have a foster-cousin raised by my aunt who still views my aunt as her mom, her six other children as siblings, me and other cousins as her cousins, and who returns to visit mom, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles as often as possible. My foster-cousin's children see her foster-mom as their grandma and my aunt sees these kids as grandchildren.

    "Have you ever helped a child who needed a bed, a roof, a meal, a ride, a shoulder, an advocate, or just a conversation?"

    Yes, for several years I was a court-appointed advocate for children in A&N proceedings. I spent much time with my client-kids, including providing meals, rides, school needs, and advice and listening.

    I did not mean to disparage all foster parents by any of my earlier comments, and I again apologize for not making my position clearer.

  95. Vanessa Torluemke 2014.08.24

    Thank you for reporting on a long-time-in-coming very newsworthy event. Prayers have been answered for SD native families. Hopefully this will aid keeping children with their families which should be concern for all and not just NA. Hopefully other states will be next in DOJ support in this area of great concern by many.

  96. Michael Nygaard 2015.01.09

    The problem is the corruption in the tribal government. We have two little girls who's fathers were granted custody The mother kidnapped the children and fled to CRST reservation. The girls are being held from their fathers. The mother was arrested by the FBI and is currently in Cass County Jail on Parental Kidnapping charges. The court has ruled she be held until she agrees to follow the custody orders and return the girls to their fathers.

    The tribal members have no business making decisions regarding these girls. Their parents are the ones that should be making decisions. Since the mother is in jail it should be an automatic default for them to be back with their fathers. They were born and raised in North Dakota. That is where they spent their entire lives until they were kidnapped. They are not property and should not be kept from their fathers.

    Please, contact CRST Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux and let her know that the fathers orders need to be honored.

  97. Patricia Shiery 2015.02.10

    Native Americans represent the smallest population in comparison to non Native Americans in South Dakota, however, Native American children represent the largest population in foster care. Federal ICWA was established for a reason, to protect Native American children and their families. Non-compliance of ICWA has been a long going battle in South Dakota far to long. There have been attempts made by certain members of the State Legislative branch to correct this problem on several occasions , but time and time again these particular bills are killed in committee. The creation of a council comprised of ICWA workers from each of the Tribes that falls under the Department of Tribal Relations to oversee all ICWA related cases would assist in making accountability possible and strengthening Tribal involvement thus, making the notification of Tribes an absolute priority. Under ICWA, when a child's tribal affiliation is unknown, DSS must notify all tribes that may have some connection to the child as well as the Department of the Interior, which may have information that would help determine the child's tribal status. Much of the case law interpreting the ICWA has arisen from situations in which one of the parties to a state court child custody proceeding claims "good cause" for not transferring the case to a tribal court. Although "good cause" is not defined under the law, its meaning is made somewhat clear in the guidelines for state courts enacted by the Department of the Interior. The guidelines state that a party opposing a transfer to tribal court has the burden of showing good cause by clear and convincing evidence. Once removed from their homes Native American children are declared as "special needs" children which increases federal funding to DSS. This is an absolute outrage! "Special Needs" is an umbrella underneath which a staggering array of diagnoses can be wedged, none of which pertain specifically to culture, race or ethnicity. Native American children have unique needs in comparison to non-native American children, but are not "special needs." Many times children have been removed because of the overwhelming poverty their families were facing. Although, admittedly, poverty creates obstacles to child rearing, it isn't against the law and this has been used by some DSS workers as evidence of neglect and, therefore, grounds for taking children from their homes. ICWA mandates a process, if adhered to, will ensure the survival of Native American families, their culture and tribes.

  98. douglas boes 2015.02.10

    if you worried about the children as much as the $ amount each child brings to whichever entity has the control it would open doors for all children. so what you are saying is that tribes should have more control over children then their own parents? i am sorry but i find that not only ignorant but extremely selfish and self serving. can you explain to me how much "native" is native ? and why is it that a child with 10% native american blood 40% african american blood and 40% caucasion blood should be treated any different than any other child in this or any other state ? why do you feal that the 10% native should control all that effects a child? this is the problem , it is america , like it or not! all people are created equal and then deserve the same liberties and freedoms , and this includes children. poverty effects every race in america , and if you can prove to me that it does not then do so please. icwa and corrupt tribal courts in control of children over their parents wishes in any circumstance is just ridiculas and not american!!!!!
    look up the story "angels" need your help - on facebook by angel bluearm or "three angels by gaddy" on utube and then explain what you think about tribal control over children!

  99. Dicta 2015.02.10

    It's not often I use internet memes, but:

    [Editor's Note: Dicta was responding to Mr. Boes's original use of Caps Lock. I have since revised his post to lowercase for aesthetic purposes. —CAH 11:47 CST]

  100. Patricia Shiery 2015.02.10

    Mr. Boes,
    Thank you for your enlightening response! It is very apparent that you totally misinterpreted what I had said and only took out key points that you felt needed to be addressed without much consideration and thought to the context in its entirety. I am extremely concerned for the children, what you misunderstood was that I was simply explaining that our children are being victimized by placing a diagnoses on them that is not warranted but for the sake of additional funding to the state. Thus, using our children as a "cash crop." Without an understanding of the culture you are then minimizing Tribal involvement and then confusing it with "control" which is not the case. Continuously I see comments or hear comments speaking about Tribal Counsel corruption and blame placed on them for the removal of children from their families and homes. The hypocrisy of that is that their is corruption in every form of government, but it is only the Tribes that are pointed out. Look at your own government then tell me there is no corruption. Additionally, I did not create the sense of worthiness by dictating blood quantum, that I am afraid came from the federal government, in an attempt to remove treaty responsibility (a topic of its own). Again, you misunderstood what was being said in regards to poverty, at no time did I suggest that poverty doesn't affect any other race, but was speaking in context to the subject matter at hand. I identified that poverty among Native Americans has been used to justify removal of children under the guise of neglect. Ignorance I am afraid is reflective of your response and claims that "this is America" and everyone is created equal. If this was true and exact then we would not segregate by placing titles on races, i.e. Native America, African American, Asian American, etc. but only be known as AMERICAN, but most importantly human beings. Also, at which time blood quantum of any race would not matter as then we would be seen as "equal." Name calling and degrading another comes from lack of knowledge, intellect, and understanding. Small minds!!

  101. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.02.10

    Mr. Boes, you need to listen closely to what Ms. Shiery is saying.

    BTW, I appreciate your obervation that this is America. Indeed it is. However, in this noble nation some folks are treated as less American than others. In this nation of European Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latin Americans, and others; it is beyond ironic that the most American of all Americans are often treated as the least American of all.

    What a country!

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