Petition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)

To the Bureau of Indian Affairs:

National Geographic’s recent feature on Lakota people in South Dakota recounts a 150-year history of broken promises and injustice. The article also highlights the Lakota’s resilience and a resurgence in the struggle to preserve their culture.

One of the greatest threats to the survival of Lakota culture is the unlawful removal of Native American children from their families by South Dakota state authorities. Spurred by federal monetary incentives, the state’s actions have reached epidemic proportions, with nearly 700 Native children being taken each year. These policies constitute a full-scale attack on the Lakota kinship system and have resulted in the shattering of countless families.

Last fall, NPR aired a three-part investigative series that exposed this tragic practice. In response to the award-winning report, Congressmen Ed Markey, Dan Boren, Jim Moran, Mike Simpson, Dale Kildee, and Tom Cole requested that the Assistant Secretary of the Interior report on what the Bureau of Indian Affairs has done, or plans to do, to remediate the crisis.

Currently, tribal representatives from each of South Dakota’s reservations have called for a summit to discuss long-term solutions to this problem. We, the undersigned, join them and the Lakota People’s Law Project in calling on the Bureau of Indian Affairs to host this summit as soon as possible.


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Last fall, NPR aired “Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families,” a 3-part investigative report that exposed the South Dakota Department of Social Services for taking thousands of Lakota children in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The series was heard by 28 million people worldwide and won a Peabody award. After the story, two Democratic members of the House of Representatives, Edward Markey and Dan Boren, sent a letter to the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior demanding that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) respond to the NPR story by developing an immediate action plan to improve the situation in South Dakota. Nine months have passed and nothing has yet been done.

Please sign the below petition to encourage the BIA to act now. We will deliver your signed petition to the BIA and organize Lakota grandmothers in South Dakota to get a summit to happen as soon as possible.

As we say in Lakota, Pilamaya—Thank you!

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