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A pair of South Dakota House bills designed to codify aspects of the federal Indian Child Welfare protections in state law failed to pass on Monday.
One of them would have bumped up requirements for the Department of Social Services to keep Native children with their families and tribes.
The other outlined placement preferences for all children, regardless of race, to keep them in their communities when they’re removed from their homes.
Victoria Wicks reports.
The bill to give first preference for foster or adoptive placements in communities did not make it through the House Judiciary Committee Monday morning and the bill to improve DSS efforts died on the House floor later in the day.
Opposition in both forums centered on an appeal currently before the U.S. Supreme Court that challenges the constitutionality of the federal ICWA law.
On the House floor, State Rep. Tony Venhuizen (R-SD) said if the Supreme Court finds that ICWA is unconstitutional, the state will have passed potentially unconstitutional laws.
“So as important as this issue is, at a time when the law is in flux before the Supreme Court, I would submit that this is not the time to make this change. We should wait and see what happens and consider a law like this next year.”
The case, Haaland v. Brackeen, questions if preferred placement of Native children with Native families or tribes is race based, rather than political, and if the federal government, by directing state courts to take certain actions, violates anti-commandeering principles.
State Rep. Peri Pourier (D-SD/Oglala Sioux) is the prime sponsor of both bills. She argued against Rep. Venhuizen’s contention.
“We have nine tribal nations. We have citizens of those tribal nations that are South Dakotans. This is not a race-based law.”
As for the other aspect, Rep. Pourier said the issue there involves federal commandeering of state procedures. She said the state is allowed to commandeer itself by passing these bills.
The Yurok Tribe is sponsoring a day at the Capitol on Tuesday in Sacramento to address missing and murdered Indigenous people.
Frankie Myers is vice chair of the Yurok Tribe.
“We’re really looking to highlight the need for better tribal engagement with the state process and more engagement from the state, and really raise the awareness of MMIP issues here in California.”
Myers says speakers will include assemblymembers, tribal leaders, and families who are continuing to advocate for their missing or murdered loved ones.
He says tribes are taking a holistic approach to address MMIP in the state.
“The health of our people is connected to the world around us and the world around us is connected to the health of our people. If we’re going to start to restore who we are we need to make sure our people are protected. How we make sure this stays in the focal point of our state partners is continuing to make sure we’re progressing forward with legislation and budget amendments that will actually make change to this epidemic.”
Myers says three pieces of legislation they’re advocating for will do just that.
One involves seeking $200 million added to the governor’s budget to address MMIP, the other two bills involve public safety, and protections for young people in the foster care system.
Tuesday’s event is the first ever Missing and Murdered Indigenous Day at the state Capitol.
The U.S. Interior Department last week allocated nearly $580 million to fund water compacts with tribal nations.
Aaron Bolton reports the funding comes from an infrastructure bill passed by congress last year.
The Interior Department is allocating $460 million in order to meet the federal government’s financial obligation to tribes across the country with water compacts. Another $120 million will go toward the Reclamation Water Settlement Fund.
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in northwest Montana will receive the largest disbursement at nearly $157 million.
The tribes have the largest water compact in U.S. history at $1.9 billion. Funding will also flow to other Montana tribes, including the Blackfeet Nation and the Crow Tribe.
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