This summer the Justice Department intervened for the first time in its history in a federal district court case in South Dakota, concluding that the state has violated the rights of Native American parents.
Two of the state’s largest tribes argued that the state has removed children in hearings where parents were rarely allowed to speak and often lasted less than 60 seconds. The children were then placed indefinitely in largely white foster homes.
Stephen Pevar, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the suit along with the Oglala Sioux and Rosebud Sioux tribes, called the hearings “kangaroo courts.”
“There was nothing — nothing — that any of the parents did or could have done,” Pevar said. “It was a predetermined outcome in every one of these cases.”