Judge Jeffrey Viken

Victoria Wicks file photo

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that South Dakota officials violated the Indian Child Welfare Act. Now the ACLU attorney who represented the plaintiffs says he plans to ask the Eighth Circuit to reconsider, even though the state officials have made the changes to custody hearings that the plaintiffs were seeking.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

The Indian Child Welfare Act lawsuit filed in Rapid City's federal court almost five years ago is going to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel is hearing oral arguments in St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

In March 2013, the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux Tribes, as well as tribal parents, brought suit against state officials in Pennington County. They claim the process for handling abuse and neglect cases routinely violates ICWA and due process rights.

courtesy photo

A federal judge has ordered Seventh Circuit and Pennington County officials to stop violating the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Judge Jeffrey Viken's order affects emergency hearings held within 48 hours of the removal of children from their parent or guardian's care.

The judge's order responds to a lawsuit filed in Rapid City in March 2013 and resolves seven of eight issues. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports on this latest development.

Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Viken

In the United States, there are federal laws, and there are state laws. And it's state law that prohibits felony acts such as murder, rape, burglary, aggravated assault, and larceny.

But the state does not have jurisdiction in Indian Country. And so if a tribal member on a reservation commits a major crime, he or she is prosecuted by the federal government.

It's a unique situation. Indigenous people, members of tribes, are commonly tried in federal court for state crimes, while other racial or ethnic groups are not.

Photo by Victoria Wicks

A federal judge has set a hearing date to reach a resolution in a lawsuit alleging violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA. Judge Jeffrey Viken ruled more than a year ago that practices in Pennington County violate statutes and the U.S. Constitution. But he told parties at a status hearing on May 26 that recent transcripts show those practices have not changed. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has followed this case since it was filed more than three years ago.

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Victoria Wicks file photo

A federal lawsuit alleging violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act in Pennington County is now back in motion. Judge Jeffrey Viken issued an order on March 30 last year, finding that judges, prosecutors, and child protection officials violated ICWA in the way they conducted hearings immediately after children were removed from their parents' care. For almost a year, Viken has been reviewing defendants' motions for reconsideration. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has followed this case since it was filed in federal court in early 2013.