Image Credit: John Poole/NPR – Janice Howe’s grandchild Derrin Yellow Robe, 3, stands in his great-grandparents’ back yard on the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota. Along with his twin sister and two older sisters, he was taken off the reservation by South Dakota’s Department of Social Services in July of 2009.
Indian Removal in Modern Day America
Imagine having your children removed from you with no cause. Imagine a government that doesn’t acknowledge your concerns. Imagine not being able to prove your innocence or get your children back because the state puts no value in your voice. What would you do? What could you do?
I recently came across an article entitled, “South Dakota Kidnaps Indian Children and Sticks Them in White Foster Homes“.
The title may sound extreme, but NPR has just wrapped up a year long investigation that proves just that. South Dakota is forcibly removing Indian children from their homes, and in many cases, there is no cause to warrant the removal. What’s worse, they haven’t been honoring the Indian Child Welfare Act and are relocating Indian children to white families, with little or no consideration for maintaining cultural roots or family relationships. These children are relocated to white families, despite the fact that state certified Native American foster homes are available. As you’ll hear in the NPR broadcast, several of these state-certified homes have remained empty for years, while Native American children continue to be funneled into the care of white homes and shuttled away for the comfort and traditions of the reservations. This situation is amplified by the fact that very few of the Native families who have had their children removed have been proven unfit. How then, can these children be taken? NPR’s Lauren Sullivan connected with American Indian families in Pine Ridge and local officials to discover the true motivation behind the increasing removals of Indian children.
Take a look at the key findings of NPR’s investigation:
* Each year, South Dakota removes an average of 700 Native American children from their homes. Indian children are less than 15 percent of state’s the child population, but make up more than half the children in foster care.
* Despite the Indian Child Welfare Act, which says Native American children must be placed with their family members, relatives, their tribes or other Native Americans, native children are more than twice as likely to be sent to foster care as children of other races, even in similar circumstances.
* Nearly 90 percent of Native American children sent to foster care in South Dakota are placed in non-native homes or group care.
* Less than 12 percent of Native American children in South Dakota foster care had been physically or sexually abused in their homes, below the national average. The state says parents have “neglected” their children, a subjective term. But tribe leaders tell NPR what social workers call neglect is often poverty; and sometimes native tradition.
* A close review of South Dakota’s budget shows that they receive almost $100 million a year to subsidize its foster care program.
Read and/or listen to all three parts in the investigation on NPR:
Latest posts by Chantilly Patiño (see all)
- VIDEO: Study Shows, Wealthy People Break the Law More Often - November 6, 2013
- The Hunted and the Hated: An Inside Look at the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk - September 29, 2013
- WATCH: Stop and Frisk – Keeshan says he’s been stopped over 100 times - September 29, 2013