February 25, 2015 -- The Lakota People’s Law Project is pleased to announce the release of a 12-page report detailing the unequal treatment of Native Americans by the Untied States criminal justice system.
February 12, 2015 -- Supporters of the Lakota People’s Law Project and the Lakota Sioux tribes have cause for celebration as the organization dedicated to racial equality for the Indian people in South Dakota and throughout the United States has reached 50,000 signatures on its MoveOn petition campaign.
December 01, 2014 -- The Lakota People's Law Project will join all nine Sioux Tribal Chairman in Washington D.C. in early December to push for solutions to the ongoing child foster care issues in South Dakota Indian Country.
October 06, 2014 -- The Lakota People's Law Project worked in association with A Positive Tomorrow and the Sioux Tribes of South Dakota to bring Indian tribes closer to running their own independently run foster care systems.
Two more South Dakota Lakota tribes advance toward their own foster care systems, intending to replace the State DSS system
August 20, 2014 -- As the ACLU further exposes the foster care crisis in South Dakota Indian Country, Lakota People's Law Project, A Positive Tomorrow and the tribes collaborate to pursue a lasting solution.
July 30, 2014 -- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has included South Dakota’s persistent and alleged illegal seizure of Lakota children in a report it is scheduled to present to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in August, highlighting the important work that the Lakota People's Law Project has been conducting for the past several years.
March 19, 2014 -- The Romero Institute, a Santa Cruz, CA non-profit, has successfully used social media to create a national movement to save Native foster children in South Dakota.
New Petition to “Free Lakota Children from State Kidnapping” Attracts Record Signatures - More than 15,000 Sign in First Week
January 30, 2014 -- In its first week, more than 15,000 joined the Lakota People's Law Project in urging President Obama to end South Dakota’s “Foster Care Removal Epidemic” by funding the tribes directly to develop and provide their own child and family services. US government statistics show that 90% of the 750 Lakota foster children South Dakota seizes each year go into non-Native homes and locked group psychiatric facilities instead of being placed with their families or tribe as directed by Federal law.
Lakota Sioux Press Feds on Foster Care and Direct Funding for Social Programs - "Our Children Are Not Yours to Take" Demonstration Planned at White House Conference
November 12, 2013 -- Lakota leaders will be meeting with officials from the Departments of Justice, Interior, and Health and Human Services November 12-13 in Washington, DC to demand an investigation into the Mette foster care scandal and for direct funding for tribal child and family programs. A demonstration, "Our Children Are Not Yours to Take," is planned for Wednesday November 13 outside the Department of the Interior during the White House Tribal Nations Conference.
October 01, 2013 -- The Lakota People’s Law Project has just issued “Who’s Watching the Watchdog? – A Critique of NPR Ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos’ Egregious Errors in Attacking Laura Sullivan and Amy Waters’ Reporting on Native Foster Care”. The report alleges that the former founding editor of Wall Street Journal Americas and now NPR Ombudsman’s 80 page report written over 22 months made six very serious errors which invalidate his findings, and the data justify the original airing of the Peabody Award winning report on Native foster care in South Dakota.
On Heels of Indian Foster Care Summit & Tribal Demands for Greater Sovereignty, South Dakota Governor Shows Support for Tribally-Run Programs in Letter to HHS
July 19, 2013 -- After several years of intense organizing by the South Dakota Sioux tribes to enforce the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in their state, the Lakota People's Law Projects trumpets the fact that yesterday South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard expressed support for tribally-run foster care and adoption programs in a letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to a report issued by South Dakota's ICWA directors on January 22 of this year, South Dakota is one of the worst violators of the federal law, placing 90% of Indian foster and adoptive children into white homes when the law requires that Native children stay with their relatives and tribes.
Historic Lakota Oceti Sakowin Conference, July 8-10 in Rapid City, Addresses Enforcement of the Indian Child Welfare Act, Water Rights, Sacred Sites, and Health
July 03, 2013 -- The nine tribes of the Lakota in South Dakota are meeting July 8 - 10 in Rapid City, SD to continue their collaborative efforts to improve the enforcement of the Indian Child Welfare Act, protect sacred sites, address uranium poisoning of the land and water, and discuss health care and water rights. The Lakota People’s Law Project is providing technical support to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe which is hosting the conference.
US Indian Policy as Racial Discrimination, Pacifica Radio's Law and Disorder Program Interviews Lakota People's Law Project's Daniel Sheehan
June 24, 2013 -- Lakota People’s Law Project Chief Counsel Daniel Sheehan’s interview for Pacifica Radio’s “Law and Disorder” program will air on Monday, June 24 on WBAI in New York from 9:00 am to 10:00 am and will be carried by 24 Pacifica stations throughout the week. In the 15 minute pre-recorded interview, Sheehan presents his views on the US policy of direct and indirect forced assimilation of Native Americans as a policy of racial discrimination and cultural genocide.
Lakota People’s Law Project Chief Counsel Daniel Sheehan Reviews Genocide Issues with UN Human Rights Officials
June 06, 2013 -- On Tuesday, June 4, Lakota People’s Law Project Chief Counsel Daniel P. Sheehan presented a draft complaint and other materials to UN human rights officials Rekia Soumana and Giorgia Passarelli regarding the removal of Lakota children from their extended families and tribes. According to Sheehan, the State of South Dakota’s alleged non-compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act is a violation of section 2 (e) of the UN genocide convention of 1948 and the Federal Genocide Implementation Act of 1987.
The South Dakota Mette Child Rape Case, A New Special Report by the Lakota People’s Law Project Released at Historic BIA Summit
May 15, 2013 -- After an 18-month investigation, the Lakota People’s Law Project has issued a special report, “The Mette Case: Native Children Abandoned and Forgotten." Working with court transcripts and written statements from key participants, The Lakota People's Law Project has reviewed the way in which State of South Dakota handled the foster placement and adoption of Native American children by Richard and Wendy Mette of Aberdeen, South Dakota.
May 12, 2013 -- The Standing Rock and Oglala (Pine Ridge) Sioux Tribes will live-stream on cable and the Internet a historic summit about Lakota foster care, May 15-17, in Rapid City, SD. The summit will address alleged widespread violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act by South Dakota.
May 06, 2013 -- The Sioux Tribes of South Dakota and their NGO allies, including the Lakota People’s Law Project, have been successful in persuading the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to fulfill its promise to Congress for a summit on Native foster care. The historic meeting, to be held May 15-17 in Rapid City, is called the “Great Plains Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Summit: Bringing Our Children Home and Keeping Our Families Strong” and will be supplemented by a Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Information Center.
Lakota Spring Comes to South Dakota: Idle No More, Native People Organize to Get Their Children Back from State Foster Custody and Create Tribal Family Services
April 11, 2013 -- According to the Lakota People's Law Project, Lakota groups and leaders in South Dakota have an ambitious spring agenda that includes a Bureau of Indian Affairs summit on Native foster care, seeking direct federal funding for their own family service programs, and working with Congress to ensure enforcement of the Indian Child Welfare Act. To prepare for the summit, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will hold two sets of pre-summit hearings: the first on April 20th at Grand River Casino in Mobridge, South Dakota, and the second on April 26th at Prairie Nights Casino in Fort Yates, North Dakota.
February 11, 2013 -- According to the Lakota People's Law Project, on Wednesday, February 6, National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” aired a report by Peabody award winning journalist Laura Sullivan: “South Dakota Tribes Accuse State of Violating Indian Welfare Act”. Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Ben Luján (D-NM) called for more information from the State of South Dakota and for a Congressional hearing.
NPR’s Laura Sullivan to Report on Congressional Reaction to Lakota Studies about Violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act in South Dakota
February 05, 2013 -- Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 6, on “All Things Considered” Laura Sullivan, National Public Radio’s Peabody Award winning investigative journalist, will continue her coverage of Lakota foster care issues and the apparent violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act by South Dakota’s Department of Social Services. Sullivan will report on the reaction by members of Congress to reports submitted last week by the Coalition of Sioux Tribes for Children and Families and endorsed by seven tribal councils representing over 98% of Lakota tribal members in South Dakota.
January 03, 2013 -- The Lakota People’s Law Project is encouraging those concerned about Native foster care to attend the trial of former assistant state attorney Brandon Taliaferro and court appointed child advocate Shirley Schwab in Aberdeen, S.D., on Monday January 7, 2013. The defendants are charged with releasing confidential information and claim they were indicted because they challenged the Department of Social Services’ refusal to investigate a child rapist in 2011.
Aided by Lakota People's Law Project, South Dakota ICWA Directors’ Report Spurs Congressmen to Renew Bid for BIA Summit on Lakota Foster Care
December 13, 2012 -- In response to National Public Radio and Associated Press news reports, Congressmen Ed Markey (D-MA) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) renewed their year old request for a Bureau of Indian Affairs summit on South Dakota’s Native foster care program. In their letter of December 7, to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn, the legislators cited the initiative of the tribal ICWA directors - with technical assistance from the Lakota People's Law Project - in preparing a response to the questions they had raised..
South Dakota Indian Child Welfare Act Coalition Affirms NPR Story - Alleges Systematic State ICWA Violations in Report to Congress
December 04, 2012 -- On Thursday, November 29, the South Dakota Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Directors Coalition voted 6-0 to submit a report to Congress asserting that the South Dakota Department of Social Services has for over a decade "systematically violated the spirit and the letter of the Indian Child Welfare Act." ICWA directors are federal employees tasked with enforcing the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law that says that state agencies must place Indian foster children with family and tribal members whenever possible.
November 28, 2012 -- The ICWA Coalition representing the nine Sioux reservations in South Dakota will be reviewing a draft report to Congressmen who had requested a review of issues raised in Laura Sullivan's October 2011Peabody Award winning NPR investigative series. The original request was made to the Bureau of Indian Affairs which promised to hold a summit on Native foster care in early 2011. In the absence of action by the BIA, the South Dakota ICWA Coalition will decide whether to send its own report in response to the request the Congressmen . The meeting will be held on Thursday, November 29 in Wagner, South Dakota at the Yankton Sioux Tribe Meeting Room. A press conference will follow at 6:00 pm.
November 20, 2012 -- Red Nation Film Festival Humanitarian Award winners Daniel Sheehan and Sara Nelson of the Lakota People's Law Project called on the Bureau of Indian Affairs to comply with a request from members of Congress to hold a summit meeting in South Dakota on the taking of native children from their families and tribes. Photographer and journalist Aaron Huey was also recognized by the film festival, as well as artist and activist Shepard Fairey for raising the profile and voice of the Lakota. Huey and Fairey also supported immediate action on behalf of the Lakota.
Red Nation Film Festival 2012 Humanitarian Tribute Award Goes to Lakota People's Law Project Leaders Sheehan and Nelson
November 13, 2012 -- The Red Nation Film Festival and Awards will give its 2012 Humanitarian Tribute Award to Lakota People's Law Project Chief Counsel Daniel P. Sheehan and Sara M. Nelson, Executive Director of the Romero Institute which sponsors the project. Other recipients of Tribute Awards include: actor Johnny Depp (Brando Award), acclaimed public artist Shepard Fairy (Red Nation Activists Award), photojournalist and documentary photographer Aaron Huey (Red Nation Vision Award), actress Connie Stevens (Red Nation “Oyate” Award), and the Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association Ernie Stevens, Jr. (American Indian Heritage Month Award).
October 29, 2012 -- Russell Means passed away on October 22, 2012 after a lengthy battle with esophageal cancer at the age of 72 on his ranch near Porcupine, SD. A number of tributes and obituaries have been published. However, the loss is personal for Lakota's People Law Project tribal liasion Madonna Thunder Hawk who was his cousin and fellow activist and Chief Counsel Daniel Sheehan who helped to defend him against criminal charges stemming from Wounded Knee.
Rally in Rapid City Trumpets Sioux Tribes’ Progress in Purchasing Sacred Land, Pe’ Sla. Organizers Stress that More Funds Are Needed and Tribes Must Remain United
September 06, 2012 -- On Wednesday, Sept. 5, at a rally in Rapid City, SD, members of the Native American Pe’ Sla Land Sale movement gathered to celebrate progress in securing land they consider sacred. The rally was organized by the Last Real Indians and the Lakota People’s Law Project. Two hundred and fifty people carried posters made by street artist Shepard Fairey and National Geographic photographer Aaron Huey, which read “The Black Hills Are Not For Sale.” The nine Sioux tribes of South Dakota have submitted earnest money—a deposit—to the current owners of the 2000 acres in the Black Hills called Pe' Sla, but fundraising continues and Sioux leaders call for unity among the tribes.
Lakota "Pe’ Sla" Movement in S.D. to Hold Two Major Actions: Teach-In, Sat. Sept. 1, Cheyenne River Reservation Pow Wow; Rally, Wed. Sept. 5, Memorial Park, Rapid City
August 29, 2012 -- Chase Iron Eyes, Robin Lebeau, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Phyllis Young, and other Soiux leaders are championing the cause of reclaiming stolen lands and sacred sites, including the purchase of Pe’ Sla for the benefit of the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation). These leaders have planned two major actions. One will be a teach-in at 5 PM at the Cheyenne River Reservation pow wow this Saturday, Sept. 1. The other will be a rally in downtown Rapid City at Memorial Park at 5 PM Wednesday, Sept 5. In addition, acclaimed street artist Shepard Fairey and National Geographic photographer Aaron Huey show support for the tribes.
Street Art Hits the Red Road: Activist Madonna Thunder Hawk, Artist Shepard Fairey, & Photo-Journalist Aaron Huey Central in South Dakota Black Hills Pe' Sla Controversy
August 24, 2012 -- This weekend Madonna Thunder Hawk of the Lakota People’s Law Project will travel throughout South Dakota in a truck draped with two 28 x 10 ft. banners by street artist Shepard Fairey, National Geographic photographer Aaron Huey, and graphic artist Ernest Yerena. The art will feature the words “The Black Hills Are Not For Sale” and “Honor The Treaties.” The captions refer to the U.S.’s current policy of violating the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1851), and the Lakota’s refusal to accept compensation for the Black Hills. Thunder Hawk’s objective this weekend will be to help obstruct the sale of the Pe’ Sla portion of the Black Hills to non-Native people. Pe' Sla is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota (or Sioux) peoples of South Dakota.
July 23, 2012 -- On July 5th, in a ceremony complete with Native American custom, song, and drum performances, California Ohlone leader Ann Marie Sayers welcomed Lakota activist and grandmother Madonna Thunder Hawk in a historic meeting that marked the first time a Pacific coastal tribe has welcomed the first nations of the Great Plains. The meeting was a step by native people towards building a national coalition on human rights issues. Sayers pledged support for efforts led by Thunder Hawk and other Lakota grandmothers working with the Lakota People’s Law Project (LPLP) to find and regain custody of their grandchildren who have been taken by the state of South Dakota. The Lakota grandmothers are building coalitions to require the South Dakota Department of Social Services to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Their efforts were spurred by a Peabody Award-winning news investigation by NPR’s Laura Sullivan and Amy Waters, titled “Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families,” which brought the issues to national awareness and generated outrage across the country, as seen in the comments responding to the report.
July 18, 2012 -- “In The Shadow Of Wounded Knee” by Alexandra Fuller (National Geographic August 2012) reveals the reality of life on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, showing both the problems that the Lakota face and the fact that the Lakota are holding on to their traditions and values. “Almost every historical atrocity has a geographically symbolic core, a place whose name conjures up the trauma of a whole people... For the Oglala Lakota of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that place is a site near Wounded Knee Creek.” In the article, Alex White Plume, a Lakota activist with the laugh of a man who “cannot be defeated by ordinary disappointments,” describes the 1890 Massacre at Wounded Knee that killed 150 men, women, and children: “The fact of the killing... of the young boys and girls who were to go to make up the future strength of the Indian people, is the saddest part of the whole affair and we feel it very sorely.” According to an NPR report last October called “Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families,” this experience by the Lakota of feeling their community and kinship system threatened did not end with events at Wounded Knee. It continues through state-run foster care. Between 2001 and 2009, Lakota tribes and families in South Dakota lost over 5,000 of their children to the Department of Social Services. They continue to lose hundreds of children each year, according to National Public Radio’s Laura Sullivan. In response to this, the Lakota People's Law Project has launched a petition drive calling on the Bureau of Indian Affairs to host a summit in South Dakota on Lakota child welfare issues.
“A Tribute to America’s First People” – A benefit and community event for the Lakota Child Rescue Project, July 5th at Resurrection Church in Aptos, CA, 5:30 to 9 pm
June 28, 2012 -- The Lakota People’s Law Project is hosting a community event and benefit on Thursday, July 5th at Resurrection Church in Aptos, California. Music, dancing, Native American drumming, and children’s activities will begin at 5:30 pm. Noted speakers Attorney Daniel Sheehan, Lakota activist Madonna Thunder Hawk, and Ohlone leader Anne Marie Sayers will speak at 7 PM about the struggle for Native American rights.
June 04, 2012 -- A four-month investigation by the Lakota People’s Law Project (http://www.lakotalaw.org (http://www.lakotalaw.org)) of the nonprofit Romero Institute (http://www.romeroinstitute.org (http://www.romeroinstitute.org)) examines the case of Richard Mette, a SD foster care parent of Indian girls, who was convicted this week of child rape and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The original charges against Mr. Mette were filed by Attorney Taliaferro, who was the former assistant state attorney in charge of prosecuting child abuse cases in Brown County, SD. The investigative Special Report also reviews the evidence surrounding the criminal charges against Attorney Taliaferro and child advocate Shirley Schwab for alleged “witness tampering and subornation of perjury”. Attorney General Jackley lodged these charges against Mr. Taliaferro and Mrs. Schwab in November 2011 within days of Peabody-award winning expose by Laura Sullivan (http://www.npr.org/2011/10/25/141672992/native-foster-care-lost-children-shattered-families (http://www.npr.org/2011/10/25/141672992/native-foster-care-lost-children-shattered-families)) revealing ongoing state violations of the rights of Native children. Attorney Taliaferro and Mrs. Schwab were charged by the state with allegedly disclosing confidential case information and encouraging perjury by two Indian children against Richard and Gwendolyn Mette. (CR 10-11-13 and CR 11-274; Fifth Circuit Superior Court, Aberdeen, South Dakota.) To read the full Special Report, please visit: http://lakotalaw.org/special-reports/special-report-justice-as-retaliation/ (http://lakotalaw.org/special-reports/special-report-justice-as-retaliation/)
May 30, 2012 -- Nicholas Kristof’s portrait of the Pine Ridge Reservation in his piece for the May 9th New York Times “Poverty’s Poster Child” is shocking and sympathetic, but, according to the Lakota People’s Law Project, it does not address social and economic structures of oppression in South Dakota. While he implies that regular economic investment models could help Native American communities, he does not depict the reservation system’s perpetuation of conquest and Native American self-destruction. The Lakota People’s Law Project states that Mr. Kristof has completely overlooked South Dakota’s systematic abduction of Lakota children from their families, continuing the 150 year policy of destroying the Lakota People’s family and societal structures. This omission is more puzzling considering NPR’s Peabody Award-winning three-part expose of the South Dakota foster care system last October by Laura Sullivan.
March 01, 2012 -- The Lakota People's Law Project is sponsoring the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Forum which is being organized by Janice Howe to help other Lakota/Dakota/Nakota relatives understand their rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act. Many Indian family members are wanting to get their children back from South Dakota foster care facilities. Featured in an NPR story on October 25, 2011, Ms. Howe lost her granddaughters to the Department of Social Services suddenly. She was denied any information or contact with the children. She was not given a reason for their seizure. Janice Howe fought back and won and now she is helping other families get their children back. Monthly state reports to the ICWA offices show the taking of 5,500 children over the last decade. Families of children who commited suicide or “aged out” of the foster care system alledge sexual abuse and over-drugging in the foster care facilities. Statistics by Judge William Thorne, Jr. of the Utah Appeals Court show that of the Indian children who “age out” and reach 20 years old, 63% are in prison, homeless, or dead. For all of these reasons and more, the attendees at the ICWA Forum are taking steps to reunite the Indian children with their relatives.
Rescuing the Lakota Children: The Lakota People's Law Project Responds to NPR Story with Three Ways You Can Help
October 28, 2011 -- "Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families," NPR's story by Laura Sullivan about the unjustified taking of Native children from their homes, causes anguished listeners to speak out and ask for ways to help rescue the Lakota children. The Lakota People's Law Project responds with three immediate ways to take action.
October 21, 2011 -- The Lakota Peoples Law Project is working to protect and restore families, society and community health using legal, educational, and organizational initiatives including the Lakota Child Rescue Project. Based on interviews and discussions, the Lakota Peoples Law Project is expecting Laura Sullivan’s award-winning investigative reporting to make some astonishing revelations in her series on the South Dakota Lakota Sioux on NPR October 25 and 26 on All Things Considered and October 27 on Morning Edition.