Law | National

Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation faces scrutiny over child welfare woes





State and federal officials are sounding alarms about child welfare services on the Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation in North Dakota.

The state has cut funding for 31 tribal children who are in foster care, The New York Times reported. And some federal officials are looking to do the same in light of some serious child abuse cases.

“The leadership of the Spirit Lake Nation as well as those who are responsible for delivering services on that reservation, by their actions as well as their inactions, have failed in their most basic responsibility to protect children,” Thomas Sullivan, a regional official for the Administration for Children and Families, said in a recent e-mail. “They have hung signs at the borders of the Spirit Lake Nation, ‘Pedophiles Welcome.’ They have made these signs operational by firing professionally qualified staff, directing their replacements to ignore reports of abuse and neglect, refusing to prosecute the most egregious cases of abuse.”

According to the Times, 38 registered sex offenders live on a reservation with a population of 4,500. Although American Indians make up 9 percent of the state population, Indian children represent nearly 30 percent of abuse cases.

Get the Story:
Officials See Child Welfare Dangers on a North Dakota Indian Reservation (The New York Times 7/8)

Related Stories:
HHS official blames Spirit Lake Nation for child abuse problems (6/22)
Sen. Hoeven seeks answers on Spirit Lake social services (04/25)
Editorial: A free press is essential, even in a tribal society (4/17)
Deaths of Spirit Lake Dakotah children treated as homicide (05/26)
Spirit Lake mother confirms identities of two slain children (5/25)
Father suspected for deaths of two children at Spirit Lake (5/24)