indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
The Rise of Tribes and the Fall of Federal Indian Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe offers ICWA outreach
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Filed Under: Law | National
More on: icwa, native sun news, oglala sioux, south dakota
 
The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.


Photo Courtesy National Indian Child Welfare Association

RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA –– Preservation of the Oglala Sioux tribal membership is at the forefront of the tribe’s continuing fight for sovereignty.

A 34-year-old federal law that directly affects the upbringing and membership of all federally recognized tribes is one of the least understood and most underutilized laws, all the while holding so much power for Native American tribes.

Oglala Nation Tiospaye Resource & Advocacy Center (ONTRAC), located in Pine Ridge, is staffed by tribal members who have experience either working with other tribal programs geared at protecting the tribe’s youngest members or with the state’s Department of Social Services.

Recently, the OST ONTRAC program reached out to the Rapid City community through a meeting that was set up through Woyatan Lutheran Church, which hosts several Native American events and presentations. The church is located at 522 Anamosa St.

The meeting, which was open to the public, featured not only the entire ONTRAC staff, led by Juanita Scherich, former OST Council member and now ONTRAC program director, and Valerie Kills Small Janis, OST Council representative from the Oglala District.

A meal was provided by ONTRAC for the community, and after a welcome by Scherich, each staff member was given a chance to explain their position and duties within the program.

Jolene Abourezk, Oglala Lakota, is the caseworker for the Rapid City office located on Mount Rushmore Road. Her office alone covers 10 states. One of Abourezk’s primary duties is verifying the enrollment or enrollment eligibility of all children with ties to the tribe.

“All four of our staff member, myself included, cover about 10 states each,” explained Abourezk. “I have upwards of 200 families that I am working with. It’s overload, but it has to be done.”

The OST ONTRAC program is situated below Billy Mills Hall on Main Street in Pine Ridge. This program is overseen by the OST Judiciary Committee and falls under the direct supervision of OST’s executive director.

Pine Ridge’s ONTRAC program offers intervention for and transfer of Indian Child Welfare Act cases back to tribal court for reunification with Indian parents or placement with other family members whenever possible.

The reservation-based ONTRAC program also offers family and group conferencing and home studies, and is authorized by the council to train and recruit foster families and find appropriate homes, according OST’s website.

A major goal of the program is to continue to protect OST families from unwarranted removal of Indian children by the state’s DSS.

ONTRAC’s mission statement, as established by tribal council, reads “Pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1979, (Public Law 95-608), the OST, in exercising its exclusive jurisdiction for all enrolled or eligible children, requires that states give notice to the OST in any removal of Indian children from homes.”

Additional informational meetings are being scheduled in the Rapid City area in an effort to create increased family understanding and outreach for families that can most benefit from knowing their rights when it comes to dealing with state and tribal involvement in child removal from the home.

“We want our families to know this information,” said Scherich. “Everybody wants our children because there are thousands of dollars tied to each child that the state takes. Everyone wants our kids because they are so beautiful, but they belong with us.”

States helps with financial assistance for each child from federally recognized tribes that foster families take in. Tribes are not funded to help with this type of assistance, so families are taking in their relatives at an additional cost to themselves.

However, Abourezk explained, the family placement includes the added benefits of the child not being with non-Native foster caregivers; children are often placed within their own familiar families and communities; and children can often be reunited with their parents.

ONTRAC was originally established to offer legal intervention in the placement of children alone. As needed, program staff have now taken on caseworker roles, often assisting families in finding and obtaining the resources necessary to resolve any issues in the family that lead to the removal of the children.

James Shaw, of Woyatan Lutheran Church, assisted with setting the meeting up and greeted ONTRAC staff members with hat in hand, humbly telling them: “I am thankful that you are doing what you are doing. It’s a hard job but here you are, doing it with a good heart. My family has been through this and I wish we knew about you then.”

“I am standing up, not just because I am short, and doff my hat, not just because I want you to see my bald spot, but because I stand in honor of what you do, and I take my hat off to all of you,” said Shaw in further addressing the ONTRAC employees. “Thank you.”

For more information about ONTRAC, contact the Pine Ridge office at (605) 867-5808 or the Rapid City office at (605) 791-2267.

(Contact Karin Eagle at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
First Lady Michelle Obama shares story of hope with Indian school (5/26)
Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama at Santa Fe Indian School (5/26)
Gary Davis of NCAIED joins Small Business Administration council (5/26)
Arne Vainio: A mother's gift carried me through many life journeys (5/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes score big in fights against energy projects (5/26)
Lakota Country Times: Education Secretary hears from Pine Ridge (5/26)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ending Whiteclay beer sales starts at home (5/26)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux youth lead efforts to bring relatives home (5/26)
Gyasi Ross: Drug epidemic sweeping through Native communities (5/26)
Jacqueline Keeler: Shameful and skewed poll on racist NFL name (5/26)
Interview with Melvin Monette about Cobell scholarship program (5/26)
Auction house in France won't stop sale of sacred tribal property (5/26)
United Keetoowah Band installs new leader after impeachment (5/26)
Kewa Pueblo builds new community around historic trading post (5/26)
Eastern Cherokee elder translates 'Charlotte's Web' into Tsalagi (5/26)
Puyallup Tribe works to keep language alive for new generations (5/26)
Iowa Tribe offers free play on poker website ahead of full launch (5/26)
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe offers gaming options closer to home (5/26)
Kaw Nation receives national award for tribal gaming initiatives (5/26)
Indian Health Service reform efforts gaining steam on Capitol Hill (5/25)
Indian Health Service announces more hires at troubled hospital (5/25)
Keepseagle attorneys open application process for $38M in grants (5/25)
Three tribes enter cooperative agreements for buy-back program (5/25)
New leader selected for HUD's Office of Native American Programs (5/25)
Indian relay racers gear up for event hosted by Muckleshoot Tribe (5/25)
Cronkite News: Tribes seek return of property up for sale in France (5/25)
Native Sun News: Anti-suicide effort incorporates tribal traditions (5/25)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth showcase film projects (5/25)
Mark Trahant: Native vote victory for Tawna Sanchez in Oregon (5/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Lakota people come together in times of need (5/25)
Editorial: Tribes must come up with plan for return of Black Hills (5/25)
John McCoy: Disenrollment and blood quantum are not our way (5/25)
Adrian Jawort: Addressing race relations and healing in Montana (5/25)
Fort Peck Tribes oppose new directive on transgender students (5/25)
Leader of United Keetoowah Band ousted through impeachment (5/25)
Agua Caliente Band launches software development company (5/25)
Sen. Barrasso to chair platform committee for GOP convention (5/25)
Cowlitz Tribe welcomes discussions with opponent over casino (5/25)
Little Traverse Bay Bands open doors to Class II gaming facility (5/25)
Tuolumne Band celebrates 15th birthday with casino expansion (5/25)
Former Winnebago Tribe casino employee denies theft charge (5/25)
Proposed rule brings LGBT equality to tribal housing programs (5/24)
Chairman of Quapaw Tribe endorses Democrat Hillary Clinton (5/24)
Appropriations bill blocks new federal recognition regulation (5/24)
Native American Children's Safety Act clears final Hill hurdle (5/24)
9th Circuit won't rehear Tohono O'odham Nation gaming case (5/24)
Lakota Country Times: Army promises return of tribal children (5/24)
Native Sun News: New business sprouts up at Wounded Knee (5/24)
Mark Trahant: Tulalip citizen lands role in Democratic platform (5/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Pine Ridge unites for search of missing men (5/24)
Men who went missing found dead on Pine Ridge Reservation (5/24)
Billy Mills: Flawed poll can't justify use of team's racist mascot (5/24)
more headlines...


Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.