"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." ~D. Thompson
 
One afternoon in 2008, Janice Howe—a Dakota Indian—waited at the bus stop for her grandchildren to come home from school. They never arrived. Earlier that day, a social worker had taken Janice's grandchildren. They were driven to a white foster facility hundreds of miles away. The reason stated in the case file: a "rumor" that Janice's daughter, Erin Yellow Robe, had been using drugs. She hadn't. To this day, Janice's daughter hasn't been charged or arrested for drugs—or anything else.

For the next year and a half, Janice fought to get her grandchildren back. She called the state's director of social services. She wrote letters to the governor. Finally, she convinced her tribal council to threaten the state with kidnapping. A few weeks later, her grandchildren were returned...on a "trial basis."

Since 2005 the Lakota People's Law Project has been working with hundreds of families who share Janice's story. But they haven't all been so lucky. Over the past decade, the state of South Dakota has removed more than 5,000 Native American children from their homes.

Sadly, this problem is not new. For more than 100 years Lakota children have been taken from their families. It began in the 1880s under a U.S. Government policy of forced assimilation: children as young as 5 years old were removed from their homes, shipped to boarding schools, and instructed in the ways of white culture. Today, a generation of children is once again losing its connection to its culture. This time it's through state-run foster care.

Read More at http://lakotalaw.org/lakota-child-rescue-project.

 


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    Author

    The author is an educator and has extensive dealings with child protection services. She is knowledgable of the laws and policies and hopes to impart some wisdom and information that can assist and elicit change. Please note that none of the information or advice should be a substitute for independent research and/or seeking out legal counsel.

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