South Dakota Tribes & Families Win Major Victory in Indian Child Welfare Act Case

South Dakota tribes & families just won a major victory in a case concerning the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the practices of South Dakota state officials.

What the case was about

American Indian parents & guardians, along with the Oglala Lakota Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, challenged practices related to South Dakota child custody proceedings.

The case charged that Native children are being removed from their homes after hearings lasting only 60 seconds, among other claims, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Often,  after being removed from their homes, these children are taken away from their tribal communities and placed with white foster families, NPR reported.

The Decision

Judge Jeffrey L. Viken issued a decision that ruled in favor of the parents and tribes on March 30.

Viken said “Indian children, parents and tribes deserve better,” according to ­­­­

The judge specifically instructed the state defendants to allow Native parents to meet with attorneys and review relevant documents during custody proceedings, even if it will make the proceedings take longer, according to Courthouse News Service.

“This process undoubtedly will require additional time and more county and judicial resources,” Viken wrote, “but these concerns are not adequate to forgo rights mandated by ICWA and fundamental due process.”

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