Attorney General Eric Holder offers South Dakota this parting gift—a redoubled commitment to enforcement of the Indian Child Welfare Act:
...[T]he Department of Justice is reinforcing and increasing staff for the Office of Tribal Justice—including experts with a deep understanding of the laws impacting Indian Country—to make certain that Indian men, women, and children will always have a voice in the policies and priorities of the Justice Department. And we are redoubling our support of the Indian Child Welfare Act, to protect Indian children from being illegally removed from their families; to prevent the further destruction of Native traditions through forced and unnecessary assimilation; and to preserve a vital link between Native children and their community that has too frequently been severed – sometimes by those acting in bad faith.
Today, I am pleased to announce that the Department of Justice is launching a new initiative to promote compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Under this important effort, we are working to actively identify state-court cases where the United States can file briefs opposing the unnecessary and illegal removal of Indian children from their families and their tribal communities. We are partnering with the Departments of the Interior and Health and Human Services to make sure that all the tools available to the federal government are used to promote compliance with this important law. And we will join with those departments, and with tribes and Indian child-welfare organizations across the country, to explore training for state judges and agencies; to promote tribes’ authority to make placement decisions affecting tribal children; to gather information about where the Indian Child Welfare Act is being systematically violated; and to take appropriate, targeted action to ensure that the next generation of great tribal leaders can grow up in homes that are not only safe and loving, but also suffused with the proud traditions of Indian cultures.
Ultimately, these children – and all those of future generations – represent the single greatest promise of our partnership, because they will reap the benefits of our ongoing work for change [Attorney General Eric Holder, remarks, White House Tribal Nations Conference, Washington, DC, 2014.12.03].
South Dakota's least favorite NPR reporter, Laura Sullivan, notes that this commitment to heightened enforcement of ICWA is already evident in the Department of Justice's historic intervention in the ongoing lawsuit over Pennington County's allegedly discriminatory child custody practices against American Indian parents.