As part of a new campaign to stop the genocide of Native American people in South Dakota, the Lakota People’s Law Project has initiated the Campaign to Free Lakota Children with a national petition. The petition calls on President Obama to authorize federal grants from the Departments of the Interior, Justice and Health and Human Services to start tribal foster care programs, in order to stop the kidnapping of Lakota children by South Dakota and to bring those held in state-mandated captivity home.
The epidemic of state-sanctioned kidnappings of Native children by South Dakota’s Department of Social Services (DSS) to placements in white foster homes is ongoing. Thousands of children have been removed from their homes. The children often are removed for alleged “neglect.” They are taken sometimes at gunpoint, sometimes from school, sometimes in the middle of the night, and sometimes the parents are tasered. In the minds of DSS workers Native American poverty is the same as “neglect.” White children in similar economic circumstances are not removed from their homes.
The Lakota People’s Law Project has just released a new 12-minute video entitled “Hearts on the Ground,” depicting the heart-rending story of South Dakota DSS illegally denying Lakota grandmothers their right to custody of their own grandchildren. The DSS rejects the grandmothers for such contrived, specious reasons as the house is too small, the grandmother is too old, decades-old alleged crimes and unsubstantiated rumors.
In South Dakota (this has been my experience from reporting there and also the opinion of the Lakota People’s Law Project), Native people are not regarded as human beings with human feelings. Native mothers and grandmothers are regularly told by DSS workers that they should just “move on” and have other children. There has to be a national campaign to change South Dakota just as there was a national campaign to change Mississippi in the 1960s.
Please sign the petition and tell President Obama to take action to bring the Lakota children home!
Photo: Lakota People’s Law Project Facebook page