Fetal alcohol syndrome and its toll on families are front and center in this Native Sun News piece:
Roxie High Bear holds protest sign across the street from Little Wound High School. (Randall Howell, Native Sun News)
Photographed and written by Randall Howell, Native Sun News Correspondent
KYLE – They’re numbers may have been small, but their voices were strong.
“Don’t Steal Children,” said a sign carried by Leonora Young Bull Bear.
Young Bull Bear said she has lost two grandchildren – both with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) – to the state’s Department of Social Services.
During her protest across the street from Little Wound School in Kyle on Thursday, Oct. 21, Young Bull Bear, Kyle, said her children belonged at home with her and their family members, “not in some boarding school in Aberdeen or who knows where.”
As a spotted eagle circled high overhead, Young Bull Bear was joined by Josephine Kills Enemy, a protester who also said her challenged children were taken from her and that now she has “visitation every other weekend” instead of raising them at home.
“I’m trying to get my great grandson, Jessie, back,” said Kills Enemy, also from Kyle. Jessie Black Tail Deer, 16 months old, has yet to meet his father, Bryan Kills Enemy, said the demonstrator. “He (the father) wants to meet him.”
During a gusting October wind, the demonstrators made it clear that they were displeased with the “lack of support” from Little Wound High School – a school “that’s supposed to provide transportation, supervision and instruction for my boys,” said Young Bull Bear, who has been raising her FAS boys for nearly 10 years now.
The boys, Aleondreaux Shae Peters, 16, and Micha Lamar Peters, 15, are her sister’s daughter’s children – teens who “will not learn beyond their current level,” she said. “They were happy at home,” said Young Bull Bear. “They just needed the support that Little Wound was supposed to provide for them. Instead, they (LOWO) took them away. I’m not even sure where they are … I think one’s in Aberdeen.”
One of the Peters boys is visually handicapped; the other is both visually and hearing handicapped, said Young Bull Bear, who was driving them to and from school daily, despite the district’s published special-needs policy of providing transportation.
In most cases, last week’s protestors said they already had tried to get redress from the Little Wound School Board, the school’s instructors, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, the state Department of Social Services and the South Dakota State School for the Visually Handicapped – all to no avail.
Young Bull Bear said she was scheduled for an October custody hearing on the teen boys, but instead the teens were “picked up and taken … They just showed up and took them.” That’s why, she said, she made a protest sign that said: “Don’t Steal Children.”
Meanwhile, Kills Enemy also said she had tried the court system.
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