Native Sun News: Ruling awaited 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

Judge to order remedies for state violations of ICWA
Constitutional rights of parents continuously violated
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Editor

RAPID CITY –– The state of South Dakota has been violating the due process rights of Indian parents and a provision of the Indian Child Welfare Act for decades ruled a federal judge last year and continues to violate them.

Federal Judge Jeffery Viken issued his findings in Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik in March of 2015 that found the Seventh Circuit Court, South Dakota Department of Social Services and Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office consistently violated the Constitutional rights of Indian parents and provision 1922 of ICWA when children were removed from their custody in hearings that lasted as little as 60 seconds.

The case was filed by American Civil Liberties Attorney Stephan Pevar and Rapid City Attorney Dana Hanna on behalf of three Pennington County Indian parents.

“In these hearings, some of which lasted no more than 60 seconds, the presiding state court judge never advised parents they had a right to challenge the petition against them, never gave the parents an opportunity to call witnesses, never required the state to present evidence from a live witness, and never gave the parents a chance to testify on their behalf. All of the cards were stacked against the parents in these proceedings and the parents lost 100 percent of the time,” Pevar said in a statement on the ACLU website.

Read the rest of the story on the all-new Native Sun News website: Judge to order remedies for state violations of ICWA

(Contact Ernestine Chasing Hawk at

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