For the last nine months, we at the Lakota People's Law Project have focused all of our energy on three campaigns. With your support, we’ve succeeded! We write to share our progress with you and to tell you about two things you can do right now to help:
- In 2011 the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) promised to hold a summit on Lakota foster care—but after a full year they had done nothing. So we launched a petition drive to force the BIA to keep its pledge to Lakota families. In January of this year, an ICWA director, tribal leaders, and Lakota grandmothers armed with 5,000 petition signatures went to the BIA office in Aberdeen, SD—and a date for the summit has been set: May 15-17, 2013 in Rapid City! This is an important first step. Now, we're working with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal leaders to ensure that the agenda looks at the roots of the problem and proposes real, lasting solutions.
- Last June, we broke the story of the Mette foster care scandal, and the story of Brandon Taliaferro and Shirley Schwab, two child advocates who were targeted by South Dakota after they exposed the state's failure to stop the sexual abuse of four Lakota foster girls. On January 10th—after 18 months of prosecution—all charges against Taliaferro and Schwab were dismissed. We will soon release a Special Report that lays bare the state's actions in this case of abuse, cover up, and false prosecution.
- In mid-summer of 2012, we began work with the Coalition of Sioux Tribes for Children and Families to prepare a Report to Congress detailing the extent of South Dakota’s ICWA violations. On January 25, the Coalition submitted its report. This garnered media coverage by NPR, the Associated Press, and other outlets and prompted several Representatives to call for congressional hearings on the issue.
These successes would not have happened without your continued support. Thank you!!
As we move into the second quarter of this year, all of our energy will be focused on the upcoming, historic Summit—which is now only a few weeks away. Our organizers are on the ground, spreading the word and mobilizing Lakota families to attend. You can help us prepare in two ways:
Make a donation to our Grassroots Fund.
Our immediate goal is to raise $20,000 before the Summit On May 15th. Your tax-deductable donation will give us the resources we need to ensure that Lakota families get to the Summit and that experts are prepared to put real, lasting solutions on the table.
Pilamaya—we thank you!
Sara Nelson and Madonna Thunder Hawk
P.S. To truly change what the state of South Dakota is doing, we need more hearts and minds in this movement! Please send this e-mail to others in your network who you believe will join us in this historic work.
You can help give us the resources we need to ensure the upcoming, historic summit is a success.