SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe is joining the Oglala Sioux Tribe to express disappointment over the South Dakota House of Representatives decision to kill a bill relating to the welfare of Native American children.
“The history we have experienced with our children’s safety and well-being in someone else’s hands has always failed miserably and continues to fail but maybe that’s the plan?” Chairman Peter Lengkeek said in a statement over the weekend.
Last week, the House fell short of passing Senate Bill 191, which would have established a task force to improve the welfare of Native children in the foster care system. The task force would have involved representatives from all nine tribes, the Department of Social Services, state courts and legislators.
The bill faced no opposition in legislative committees.
Lengkeek said with the killing of SB 191, the state has “missed a huge opportunity to solidify our relationships” and speaks volumes to how most of the state thinks and feels about Indigenous people.
“The systematic genocidal thinking of the majority in this state is apparent and obvious and comes as no surprise to the Sovereign Nations,” Lengkeek wrote.
During the State of the Tribes at the start of the legislative session, Lengkeek pushed the idea of state-tribal unity to lawmakers.
“With all my being, I believe that we can build a more prosperous and meaningful relationship,” Lengkeek said. “All we have to do is begin that conversation. That can start here today.”
The Oglala Sioux Tribe has also spoken out against the failure of the bill calling it “deplorable.”
“We just wish the state had wanted to come to the table with us and put our minds together so we can see what we can do for our children in the state of South Dakota. Because they’re our children as tribal nations but they’re also children of South Dakota as well,” Oglala Sioux Tribe Vice President Alicia Mousseau told KELOLAND News last week.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe issued a State of Emergency in 2022 regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act, which allows them to access resources to navigate the issue on their own. Still, Mousseau said there needs to be a joint effort from the state and the tribes to find solutions together.
Lengkeek and the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe have not yet issued a similar order, but stated that they will continue to work on the issue until it’s resolved.
“It is also apparent that the values of the State as it pertains to children do not align with the values of Oceti Sakowin,” Lengkeek said.