This week, the ACLU won an important battle on the road toward protecting the rights of American Indian children and their parents and tribes. Chief Judge Jeffrey L. Viken of South Dakota's federal District Court ruled that a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in March of 2013 can go forward, rejecting motions filed by the defendants that sought to have the case dismissed. The suit, brought on behalf of the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Indian Tribes and a class of Indian parents, aims to ensure that state courts in South Dakota respect the rights granted to Indian parents by the Constitution's Due Process Clause and the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA). The defendants include a state court judge, a county prosecutor, and the director of the South Dakota Department of Social Services.
Recognizing that nothing "is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children," ICWA's express purpose is "to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families." Why did Congress pass this statute? Because a congressional investigation in the mid-1970s revealed some truly shocking statistics: Between 25 and 35 percent of all Indian children nationwide had been removed from their families by various state welfare agencies and courts. In one state, the adoption rate for Indian children was eight times higher than that of non-Indian children. In another, Indian children were 13 times more likely than non-Indian children to be placed in foster care. These alarming numbers were the result of more than a century of failed policy, in which state officials could not or would not respect Indian communities' cultural and social standards.
(This is not allowed to show as a link on some cellphone views)
According to Chatelle, the cases of Feather, Hubbeling, and the Rouse brothers display patterns NCRJ has seen before, including the burden of proof shifting -- improperly -- to the defendants. "They should be presumed innocent unless they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Chatelle said. "Instead, they are presumed guilty and must prove themselves innocent, which is far more difficult." Read the entire article at the url above.
Removing children from their families is traumatic. The ACLU article states that in some areas, Native American parents must wait an agonizing 60 to 90 days before they can learn why their children were removed, which violates the Due Process Clause and ICWA. The Rouse children were abducted by police and taken to a farm house to live among strangers without any explanation to their parents as to why the eleven children were taken. One of the children with whom I spoke (she is now an adult) said the authorities promised the Rouse children that if they lied on their relatives, they would be returned home, but they never were. I was told that the Rouse children have since recanted their false statements, and some took lie detector tests to prove their supposed molestation never happened. But the system is making prison profits off their relatives and refuses to acknowledge the men's innocence.
The congressional investigation showed that up to 35 percent of all Native American children had been removed from their families. Many of those removals coincided with wrongful convictions of Native American adults. Hear recent interviews with Rouse family members and supporters:
January 27 interview on "Human Rights for Prisoners March" radio show:
January 15 interview with Rouse family member and supporters:
Interference was intense during our January 15 interview for the first 11 minutes, after which time the interference focused primarily on Mary Neal, America's most censored.
An attorney in the Rouse case reportedly said about his clients' wrongful conviction, "THEY DESERVE IT FOR NOT CONVERTING TO CHRISTIANITY." As a Christian, I find that particularly offensive.
Janice Howe has also granted us interviews about her cousin, Juan Rojas. She will join us in prayers for justice on Sunday, February 2, 2014, on the MaryLovesJustice Prayer Meeting at 9pm Pacific