With the much needed attention in the media on how the State of South Dakota violates the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), I would to remind readers how vital this struggle is to our tribes and future generations.
Recently, a summit took place in Rapid City, SD, that shed light on this important issue. Judge William A. Throne conducted a presentation that gave us greater insights and statistics.
Thorne’s presentation showed with 12 month’s of a study that was conducted:
- 54.4% of children were diagnosed with a mental disorder.
- 25.2% of that number was Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PSTD).
That is twice the number of Vietnam Veterans.
- 16.8% are on public assistance.
- 33.2% live below the poverty line.
- 33% have no health insurance.
I would like to offer readers another statistic that was not touched on, probably for political reasons:South Dakota houses 29% of Native American prisoners, which is the highest percentage of Native Americans incarcerated in the USA. Many readers need to know that the majority of them currently incarcerated were processed through abusive adoption homes, through discriminatory juvenile correctional facilities, and finally onto South Dakota’s prison system,
Even here, the abuse continues through religious violations, discrimination, lack of educational opportunities. When I hear these stories and when I experience them firsthand, I think about our grandparents and their abusive experiences in Indian Boarding Schools.
I wonder how much culture, language, and knowledge of our ancestors had been lost in these places? How much has been lost in Lakota, Dakota and Nakota behind these walls?
Maybe if this summit took place a decade ago, would there be just as many Native Americans incarcerated today?
With the wealth of information gathered during this summit, I hope and pray we can research the total effects of the ICWA violations, including the prison system in South Dakota.
We can together stop the mothers, grandparents, and tribes from losing out most precious resource: our children.
Finally, I would like to remind readers that our ancestors believed in a sacred word that brings us back to our centers, and the sacred teachings of the Great Spirit: “Mitakuye Oyasin”, We Are All Related. Regardless of our labels in this life, or our status, we are all related. This thought process and spirital contract to one another, and to all humans, needs to be instilled within us again.
In conclusion, I am looking for an advocate to help me find solutions and properly address my concerns. You can contact me at the address shown below:
Robert A. Horse #13466
P.O. Box 5911
Sioux Falls, SD 57117-5911