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Indian Child Welfare Act Violations Prompts ACLU Investigation Into South Dakota Foster Care System

ACLU Seeks Input from American Indian Families With Children in DSS

SIOUX FALLS, SD - The appalling treatment of American Indian children, family, and tribes by the South Dakota Department of Social Services as described in recent NPR News reports has prompted the ACLU of South Dakota to investigate the actions as violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

The NPR News series, "Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families," explains how American Indian children represent more than half of all children in foster care, yet account for less than 15 percent of the state's total child population. The report also features interviews from tribal members who recall DSS officials driving onto the reservation, removing children from homes, and preventing contact with family.

The report describes several instances of ICWA violations, as well as blatant disregard of fundamental Constitutional norms and international human rights as affirmed by the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, according to Robert Doody Esq., Executive Director of the ACLU of South Dakota.

"The ACLU is firmly committed to addressing this most recent manifestation of racism and colonization in our state," Doody said. "It is shocking to see politicians and members of the government, who hold themselves out as "pro-family," react in utter contempt and callous disregard to the legitimate grievances of American Indians."

The ACLU of South Dakota wants to hear from American Indians who recently had children removed by DSS in order to ascertain the depth and breadth of the problem. Any American Indian with concerns regarding their experiences with or treatment by DSS should contact the ACLU at (605) 332-2508 or email


Please direct media inquiries to Taté Walker, ACLU of South Dakota Communications Director: (605) 332-2508, (646) 421-9387 or For more information about the ACLU of South Dakota, visit, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.
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