South Dakota Kidnapping Native American Children While Making The Federal Government Pay For It (AUDIO)

Native Americans have long been treated poorly in this country, even long after their initial conquering. Note the sign: “Positively No Beer Sold To Indians,” reminiscent of those found in the Jim Crow south.  Image @LibraryOfCongress

Native Americans have long been treated poorly in this country, even decades beyond their initial conquering. Note the sign: “Positively No Beer Sold To Indians,” reminiscent of those found in the Jim Crow south. Image @LibraryOfCongress

The history of Native American relations in the United States is at best abysmal. From intentionally introducing disease, village massacres, and widespread racism against the native population, the United States has not been a friend of our indigenous people. Those of native culture have had their lands stolen, treaties ignored, and been subject to humiliating and degrading treatment for centuries. The most horrifying, however, has been the systematic attempt to exterminate them as a people entirely; new light has come out that, despite laws to the contrary, these policies continue to be in effect, as recently covered at the Great Plains Indian Child Welfare Act Summit from May 15 through May 17 in Rapid City, South Dakota.

At the conference, a report by the Indian Child Welfare Act directors in South Dakota made a huge splash. The total population of South Dakota under the age of 18 is around 200,000, according to the U.S. Census taken in 2010. Of those children, approximately 23,000 children are Native American. And of those children, the state of South Dakota have seized approximately 750 every year from their immediate families. This statistic alone is troubling, especially when combined with the issue of tribal authority (the state of South Dakota does not have authority over the tribes), but even more so is what happens next.

What the study found was that rather than place these children with other tribal members or relatives, as required by law, the state instead places them almost exclusively with white families, away from their cultural heritage. In so doing, South Dakota is running afoul of a definition, that of genocide. While in traditional thinking, genocide refers to a direct attempt to exterminate a racial or cultural group through direct extermination, there is another form of genocide, that of cultural elimination. The definition of genocide, according to the United Nations General Assembly’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, is as follows:

… any of the following acts commit with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The Native American population is the poorest in the nation, with an astounding 50% poverty rate. There has been a targeted effort to forcibly sterilize Native American women. And here we find South Dakota with a system which has resulted in over half of the children in their foster care system being from Native American families. NPR covered this heavily for their report “Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families” in 2011. Here’s the audio:

But for those in power within South Dakota, this program brings with it a double benefit. Not only do they contribute to exterminating the Native culture, they get to have Uncle Sam pay for it. Every Native American child within the foster care system is paid for by the federal government, to the sum of almost $80,000 per child, per year, of which South Dakota only pays out under $10,000. This $70,000 surplus, which is intended to go into anti-poverty programs, healthcare, and family support for troubled children, instead goes right into the general fund for the state. It is a calculated scheme to defraud the United States government of tens of millions per year.

It is a tragedy, how we as humans have allowed the systematic persecution of the Native population. To see such a program in this day and age makes the tragedy even more real. The forced sterilization programs, in which thousands of women were sterilized, either by force or through trickery, dropped the average child-per-Native woman from 3.29 in 1970 to 1.30 in 1980. The damage done by this program was so severe that even decades after its official end, the fertility rate remains dangerously low. And now the implementation of a program to take away what few children they can have is almost too much to bear.

This abuse of power has put the entire child welfare system in South Dakota in danger, making every child taken in to the system’s care suspect. Situations where true abuse have happened are dwarfed by those where it has not. The state is in danger of having its system called into question, potentially dismantled, all due to the systemic abuse of Native people. There is no room for racism, for this culture war, in a modern society. South Dakota should be ashamed of itself, and return those children taken illegally immediately to their families. Following this, a complete and thorough policy audit should be mandated, along with the termination of the management who enacted and enforced this policy. Lastly, the money which was defrauded from the federal government should be turned over to the families as restitution.

A culture survives through its children. We are the United States, a multi-cultural melting pot of people. This attempt by bigoted people to undermine the very principle of the United States, of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, brings shame to this grand nation of ours, and it must end now.