Here at the Buffalo Post we can usually summarize a story fairly well.
But Suzette Brewer’s excellent series at Indian Country Today Media Network about South Dakota’s wholesale removal of Indian children from their homes without due process requires full reading in and of itself.
You can do so here; this links you to part three, the latest, of the series.
Brewer is detailing a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Rosebud Sioux and Oglala Sioux tribes that challenged the state’s practices and procedures.
Indian parents in South Dakota allege that it had become an accepted practice by the state that they were never allowed to view the complaints or supporting documents filed by the state against them, much less present evidence or show the court whether or not an “emergency” still existed at the time of the hearings, which usually takes place two days after a child has been removed. Additionally, some of the hearings were being held whether or not the parents were even present. Therefore, the “48-hour hearings,” as they are known, became a launch pad for Native children to be swept into foster care for up to three months while their parents and tribes struggled to get them back.
Some of Part 3 of Brewer’s series tells about the plight of Madonna Pappan, who – along with her husband the young daughter, had gone to a friend’s home in Rapid City to visit and have some drinks in October of 2011.
At some point, Marlon Pappan took their daughter out to the car and both went to sleep, with the car running to keep them warm. Madonna checked on them twice, and they were fine, but the third time she went out they were gone.
Marlon had evidently decided to drive home, and had been arrested for DUI on the way.
Not only was her daughter taken from her that night, Madonna says, but the state later took an 11-year-old son into custody who had been at home with a babysitter on the night in question, and placed him into foster care.
South Dakota also refused Madonna’s request that her children be placed with her parents – a right specifically provided for by the Indian Child Welfare Act – even though her parents were already certified as foster parents and had taken in numerous children on an emergency basis.
The Pappans have never denied Marlon did what he did – he pleaded guilty to DUI – but the state alleged Madonna was also in the car when he was arrested, which was not true – the arresting officer had only spoken to her on the phone.
There’s much more to Brewer’s story, and more to come in the series. It’s well worth following at ICTMN.
- Vince Devlin