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Chase Iron Eyes
Hello my relatives. My name is Chase Iron Eyes. I am South Dakota counsel for the Lakota Peoples Law Project, the appointed Eyapaha (messenger) of the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council, board member of HonorTheTreaties.Org, and co-creator of LastRealIndians.com. I write to you today to introduce myself to the Kos community, to tell you of the important work we are doing in South Dakota on Indian Child Welfare and treaty issues, and to ask you to support us.  

For far too long our people have been ignored by the United States. Many who are willing to learn of our struggles are kept in the dark by corporate-controlled media and other institutions. Genocide has survived in various forms after the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 and after the deliberate kidnapping, haircutting, beatings, sexual-physical abuse, rape, and other crimes against humanity that happened to our grandmothers and grandfathers at the hands of Christian Churches and the United States Government during the boarding school era. Our blood is all over America’s hands. Yet, we don't want to exploit White Guilt; we want modern humans to honor the Treaties and the Covenants that both Native and white American ancestors agreed to uphold before God.

Our nation, the Lakota Nation, entered into a Treaty, a contract between nations, with the United States in 1868 at the request of the U.S.A. America wished to establish peace with the Lakota, who were defending land, people, and a way of life that Americans were encroaching upon during the Red Cloud wars of 1866-1868. By signing the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, the U.S.A. did not grant any rights or reservations to us whatsoever; our rights inhere in our own Creator-given sovereignty over ourselves and our futures as an internationally capable people and nation. This treaty is still alive. It is an organic document that evolves with time. But, the U.S. refuses to honor the agreement, causing the United Nations to condemn the U.S. recently. How can the United States respect the Treaty it made with us? It can start by giving back the Black Hills (that’s where Mount Rushmore is) to its rightful owners and protectors, our Sioux Nation. Secondly, the United States can intervene in South Dakota to prevent the ongoing removal of Indian Children from their families in violation of our Treaties, Federal Law, and International law. The rate and manner of removal of Indian children is tantamount to genocide; it accomplishes the same results as forced transferal of our children to boarding schools in the past. It leads to the erasure of our dignity as original peoples of this continent.  
Genocide has survived and been institutionalized in the state of South Dakota's Department of Social Services, under the guidance of a legendary Indian fighter named William J. Janklow, former governor of South Dakota. Janklow once stated that the best way to deal with the American Indian Movement (AIM)—who forced great, necessary social change within and without Indian Nations—was to "put a gun to the heads of the leaders of AIM and pull the trigger." For a full briefing on the ongoing, de facto genocide against Indian people in South Dakota, visit the Lakota People’s Law Project website. But suffice it to say that the South Dakota DSS is removing Indian children from Indian parents in violation of federal and international law and placing them into White institutions and homes while Indian homes sit vacant. Every day two of our kids are taken and placed; 740+ every year are subjected to this fate. Further, the state is receiving $56 million per year (roughly 72k per kid) from the federal government to accomplish this. Some are reunited after years of battling with the state, some are kept track of, some are lost and placed in abusive homes like the home of Richard and Wendy Mette (please read our special report on this terrifying issue). What follows is a quick overview of facts and assertions based on research by the Lakota People’s Law Project.

But before proceeding, I ask that you support our work in South Dakota by donating $50. You’ll receive a free t-shirt with original artwork by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey and photographer Aaron Huey. All proceeds will go to pay Lakota professionals and activists.  

Key Facts and Assertions in re the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA):

- Fact: In South Dakota Indian children comprise approximately 13% of the total child population yet constitute roughly 54% of all children in state custody.

- Fact: In South Dakota approximately 740+ Indian kids are taken out of Indian families every year by the state.

- Fact: A lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes regarding South Dakota's reported violations of ICWA relating to the 48 hour hearing requirements is currently active.

- Fact: When our foster and adoptive children are taken from their families, 90% of the time they are not placed with their kin or another Indian family (as required by ICWA), although eligible Indian foster homes exist and yet sit vacant.

-Assertion: When our children are taken from us and placed in non-Indian residential or institutional care they have arguably zero access to culture or teachings which are vital to their self-esteem/identity.

- Fact: All foster children are classified as “special needs” children by the state of South Dakota, making them four times more profitable and resulting in a 72,000 per year financial incentive per child.

- Fact: the South Dakota economy brings in approximately 56 million dollars per year from the federal government by classifying Indian kids as special needs and removing them from their families.

- Fact: Approximately 21% of our kids who are taken from their families end up in institutions other than foster homes, such as detention centers, group homes, and psychiatric care centers.

- Assertion: Our children are prescribed psychotropic drugs at such institutions, side effects of which include destabilized mental health and suicidal ideations, and sales of these pharmaceuticals are increased significantly at our children’s expense.

- Fact: Within two years of leaving these institutions or turning 18, or otherwise "aging out" of the reach of the DSS, 63% of our kids are on the streets, in prison, or dead.

In a nutshell, that describes the on-going state of affairs in South Dakota with respect to Indian Tribes and the Dept. of Social Services. This writing is to make the reader aware of what has been happening to us. This travesty is going on right now. Justice requires that it be stopped. Bill Janklow’s legacy must die for Lakota kids to live. The Lakota Peoples Law Project is seven years deep investigating and raising awareness of this plague. LastRealIndians.com, the Lakota People’s Law Project, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have teamed up and are organizing on every reservation in South Dakota to address this crisis.

Our work is broken into a focus on the problem and a focus on solutions. In terms of the problem, we are keeping pressure on South Dakota. On the solutions side, we are helping to organize a coordinated effort among the nine Tribes in South Dakota to, eventually, take over the tens of millions per year in funding that benefits South Dakota DSS and the state as it pertains to Indian children. Nearly all of the nine Tribal governments that deal directly with South Dakota are working to assess their funding and other needs with the overall goal of establishing a direct funding arrangement between the Tribes and the Federal government to the exclusion of the state. This will take time, but I have faith that it will happen eventually. We are willing to engage the Health and Human Services Department, Interior, and others to ensure proper administrative oversight and monitoring as relates to federal funds. The Governor of South Dakota has recently issued a letter supporting such a transfer of funding and oversight responsibility of Indian Children to Indian Tribes. We are thankful for that.

Again, please donate $50 or more and we’ll send you a free, beautiful t-shirt by Shepard Fairey and Aaron Huey, declaring a phrase Lakota children grow up hearing: The Black Hills Are Not For Sale!

Lila Wophila Ichichapelo (thank you all for your time)

Chase Iron Eyes

Originally posted to Chase Iron Eyes on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 10:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Invisible People, Native American Netroots, Kitchen Table Kibitzing, South Dakota Kos, and Pink Clubhouse.

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