Native Sun News: Final ruling expected in Indian Child Welfare Act case

The team that won the Indian Child Welfare Act lawsuit in South Dakota, from left: Carole Crazy Thunder-O’Rourke, Oglala Sioux Tribe Vice-Chairman Tom Poor Bear, ONTRAC Director Juanita Scherich, Valerie Janis, Lema Richards, ACLU attorney Stephan Pevar, William Chase and Rapid City attorney Dana Hanna. Photo by Richie Richards / Native Sun News

Final ruling expected on Indian Child Welfare Case Aug. 17
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Editor

RAPID CITY –– For those who’ve lost their Indian children to a system that steals their identity, culture and connection to their families of origin, a ruling expected next week on the Indian Child Welfare Act can be Godsend.

On Aug. 17, at 9 a.m. a South Dakota Indian Child Welfare case involving the first 48 hours after an Indian child is taken into custody by the S.D. Department of Social Services will be heard in the Federal Courthouse before Chief U.S. District Judge Jeffery Viken.

The case, OST et. al vs Van Hunnik et. al., filed three years ago by ACLU attorneys Dana Hanna and Stephen Pevar on behalf of the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes and all Indian parents in Pennington County, alleged South Dakota Department of Social Services, Judge Jeff Davis and States Attorney Mark Vargo regularly violated Constitutional Rights of Indian parents and provision 1922 of the Indian Child Welfare Act during the “show cause” hearing.

In March 2015, Judge Viken ruled in favor of Indian plaintiffs and ruled that the practices and procedures of the State Court, the States Attorney and the Department of Social Services regularly violated Constitutional and ICWA rights of Indian parents in seven specific ways.

“At the hearing on Aug. 17, Judge Viken will hear arguments from the lawyers and testimony from witnesses concerning the relief that he will order for the state defendant’s violations of the Indian plaintiffs Constitutional and ICWA rights,” Hanna said.

Read the rest of the story on the all new Native Sun News website: Final ruling expected on Indian Child Welfare Case Aug. 17

(Contact Ernestine Chasing Hawk at

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