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tv   Fault Lines  Al Jazeera  January 18, 2014 2:30pm-3:01pm EST

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the day head over to or follow us on twitter. >> she's known as baby veronica, and she was the center of a high profile custody battle. her adoptive parents are white. her father is native american, and he has been fighting for her along side his tribe. the case went all the way to the united states supreme court. at the heart of the case is the indian child welfare act or iqwa which tries to keep if children to their tribes. it was in response when a highly number of native children were removed from their families and placed with non-native homes, severed from their culture in
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the process. the fundamental protections of the law are still being fought for. >> it applies the indian kids walk into the courtroom and it is not happening. here in south dakota native children are only 13% of the children in the state but more than 50% of those in foster care. and the majority are placed with non-native families, in group homes or in institutions. >> we woman you to beautiful south dakota where leaders are born. >> for the lakota people here the issue isn't just about child custody. it's about cultural survival . >> in the southwest corner of south dakota is the town of
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rapid city. a federal class action lawsuit has been filed against officials here labeling that the state routinely violates the indian. child welfare act. i went to meet one of the mothers involved in the lawsuit, madonna. >> hi there. >> how is it going, madonna? i'm withage. >> come on in. >> madonna's two children were taken into state custody two years ago. her daughter was removed after madonna's husband drove intoxicated with the young girl in the car. dakota, her son, was home with a sitter at the time. >> my son had no reason to be taken, and they took him from me at school two days later. i requested to see him before they had taken him so i could talk to him and explain to him what was going to happen, and i didn't get that chance. >> i was so frustrated. i said, okay, i'll go, i won't
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put up a fuss, so i just went . >> at the court hearing for madonna's children the judge ordered that they be kept in state custody for 60 days. the children were separated from each other and placed in non-native foster homes. dakota threatened to hurt himself and was moved to an institutional fall. >> i did not like it. i was so scared what was going to happen. i thought i was going to be away forever. >> reporter: only 11 years old at the time dakota was placed on an anti-psychotic drug and transferred to an constitution. south dakota institutionalizes more children under 12 than any state in the country.
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>> they said they were trying to protect my children. they didn't protect my children. they traumatized them in. >> madonna said the department of social services never told her about her rights under ikwa. instead with help from an attorney her tribe took over her case, and they returned custody of her children. >> if it wasn't for ikwa, i don't think i would have gotten my kids back. >> where is she right now. >> joe lean runs the icwa office for her tribe, she places children with native families or kin. >> my clients, they're so scared. any time they see a social worker it's like seeing an police officer.
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it's not like here is some social worker offer to go help me and my family to improve in some way. the immediate response is they're here to take my kids. >> reporter: joe lean believes many of the removals could be avoided. in. >> we've had grandmas who lived a block down the road and tried to get law enforcement to place them with dfs. if they can be placed with relatives they can avoid so much. once they're placed in that system so it's har it's so hardt because it's just one thing after another. >> it comes after a hear something held 48 hours after a child is removed. the state argues that parents aren't given a fair hearing and children are being remove for unjustifybly long periods of time. >> they have to give those parents a chance to present evidence in their own defense, a chance to fight the state's attempt to take their children
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away from them, and to do that in a meaningful, fair hearing in front of the judge, who has not made up his mind that whatever dss says goes. >> hanna contends that there is evidence presented but only from one side. a states attorney for pennington county, and he's one of the officials named in the class action lawsuit. he's the only person from the state who agreed to speak to us. >> so i'm a layperson, and i hear a police report or a report from a social work being admitted and i think evidence. can you explain why that doesn't mean evidentiary hearing? >> the 48 hour hearing under icq wa was designed to put parents on notice and they know what is happening to them and they have
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the availability of counsel. it is not the place to try the case. >> they tell us this is not an adversarial proceeding. this is something that we're all just supposed to go along with. from the indian perspective, who sees this in terms of history, this is about as adversarial as it gets. when the state is trying to take their children they're just following the historical tradition that started a long >> every sunday night join us for exclusive... revealing... and surprising talks with the most interesting people of our time... >> parkinson's forced his wife to type his novels. >> not only was i typing badly, but i was hallucinating... >> now, a revolutionary proceedure is giving is giving this best selling author a second chance >> it was a wondrerful moment... >> after the implant, they turned the juice on, and... >> emily & martin cruz smith
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>> my family here in south dakota has lost family in the welfare system. the story hits close to home. >> lag lala lakota. this land was home to a rich culture. it has also seen some of the darkest parts of native american history. in the 1800s the government began sending native children from across the country to bordering schools. sometimes using armed police to remove them from their families
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. >> native american children were stripped of their culture and identity. many suffered abuse in the schools. the assimilation policies continued. and in the 19 50's came the indian adoption project. native children were taken by social workers and missionaries and placed in white homes. by the time icwa was passed more than 25% of native children had been remove removed from think e families. today what native americans call historical trauma still casts a long shadow. we're in kyle, a town on the reservation, and people are walking today again suicide, an all too common appearance in a
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place are little industry and 80% of the people are uninplied. the walk is created by the suicide prevention group. [♪ singing ] >> we're seven times more likely to want to harm ourselves because we feel there is no hope. >> reporter: the coordinator of the group. she says that struggles with alcohol and drug addiction are common here. >> we've had six suicides from january to a few days ago, six. but we have saved a lot of people's lives, a lot of youth. >> i stopped many suicides just by talking to them. i went and cut down a person last summer, i cut him down just in time.
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as a grandmother i'm here today to help each and every one of you and many more. >> at the end of the day the participants smudge bassing a bundle of burning sage around the circle to cleanse and purify themselves. >> if we're going to walk out of the darkness together we have to help each other and talk about it. >> this is our regular show on radio. we have a regular show on thursdays. and we give out information. >> tiny's group teaches jog people how the lakota culture cull--teaches how the lakota culture can help. >> we teach about the sweat sweat lodges. >> i never felt that peace like when i'm with my friends and family. we need to be clarified.
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we carry a lot of baggage. that's how we can deal with a lot of hardship we have as we go through our our lives. >> we're all related. >> in lakota culture. family encompasses all of the family's by blood, marriage or adoption. ber knees spotted eagle is raising six of her great grandchildren and flee grandchildren. >> i wake up praying for them, talking to them, getting them ready, clean them up, send them to school. i do all this by myself. that's what keeps me going. >> in the area grandparents have the same rights to raise children as parents. the oglala tribe has honored
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this tradition by taking child welfare for the state. it's the tribes' own child protection agency, and it empowers tribal courts in an unique way. >> the lakota people, we always lived crowded. look at the teepee thing. you can get four or five girls laying on the floor in the bedroom. as long as they were safe, as long as they were loved and protected and fed, that's acceptable. dss would not allow that in any placements. we're using our tradition and culture we were able to find a lot of kids permanency with extended family. >> they're able to live together, go to school and remain their connection to the lakota culture. >> there you go. >> the best being in life is that we love each other, we
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share with each other. we care for each other. in our lakota ways of life is a very precious way of life for us. >> for young people who don't have an extended family who can take them in the transitional living program or tlp creates it for them. it's a home for teenagers ages out of the foster care system. >> our kids would age out of foster care with no skills to survive on their own and a lot of them ended up pregnant or incarcerated or in substance abuse situations, and they really didn't have the tools to know what independent live something. >> very recently arrived at the tlp. she first went into state custody when she was eight years old and lived in up to 12 homes. she said she lost track at some
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point. >> the first time that i went into the system, like, all i wanted was my mom. all i wanted was my dad. by the time i was 13 i finally figured out my parents , they kind of--they don't want kids. they want to be on their own, you know. so regardless if they're there or not i shouldn't be there. >> how did that make you feel when you figured that out. >> i didn't want anything to do with them because they were just going to continue hurting me. emotional ly. >> sari is now back in touch with her parents, and she's studying for her ged. >> transitional live something a very big stepping stone in my life. i feel like i am right where i need to be . i want a career for myself. i want to go into the navy.
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i'm pretty excited about that. >> i hope you make it happen. >> the l tp can be a lifeline for young people like sari, but it's future hinges on funding and it's facing severe cuts from sequestration. >> our kids need to laugh, run, play, not worry about where their next meal is going to come f if they're going to have school clothes. these are things that we as direct service providers need to help insure that these kids are get something they're able to educate themselves so that they can do what i'm doing, what you're doing, what the president of our tribe is trying to do. >> i'm phil torres, coming up this week on techknow... >> a mystery, deep in the heart of the rain forrest >> we haven't seen something actually build them... >> it's been really frustrating >> it's a spidery clue that has
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our team of scientests stumped... join our journey to peru... then, it looks like chicken, tastes like chicken, >> that's good.... >> but it's not... the foamy inovation that's making hardcore meat eaters happy. >> techknow on al jazeera america there's more to finical news than the ups and downs of the
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reservation many families migrate in search of work. only too find that the conditions are just as tough in rapid city. there are more native americans living in poverty here than any other city in the country . and if their children get taken into custody they often lack the resources to fight the state. >> my children were taken last week because of my inavailability to protect them, and it wasn't anything that i had done. i let them go with their dad, and their dad took them somewhere where they shouldn't have been. >> her children were taken to the home of a family member who is alleged to have abused them on a previous occasion. later when the children were being interviewed by the police about the incident an officer asked angela to step into another room with her. >> when i went with her, that's when she told me she was taking my kids into custody .
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she wouldn't let me say bye, hug them or anything. she took them. she went into the room. they said mama. she said, she'll be right back. >> angela is about to find out if she'll be able to see her children today. >> we don't have a whole lot right now, but we have each other. and that's the most important thing in the world to me. >> it feels like i haven't seen my kids in a year, and it's only been a week. there they are. [ sobbing ] >> i love you so much. hi, baby.
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>> angela's children are being returned to her under state supervision. >> i missed you guys. >> on future hearing she'll find out if she'll regain full custody. >> did you pray? >> i prayed every minute. >> me, too. >> me, too. >> later angela tells us about a message a police investigator sent her. >> tell me about this note? >> the investigator called and said wanted me to let you know as a parent you can decline trials involvement in custody case. >> you can decline the help of your tribe. >> she said it to me over the phone. >> why do you think she's telling you that. >> i think she wants to influence me that i'm better off without them. >> i've had so many clients tell me that.
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they told me if i tribe gets involved in the case i'll never see my kids again, and that's not true. >> she has even had judge questions her right to interve intervene. >> the tribe has an absolute right to intervene and not interject. that tells what you kind of state we live in. >> i can tell you the emotion on your face when you talk about these things. >> how can you not get emotional when you're not native. i think i get upset because it's so obvious. it's not a secret. it's not something that's new. for people in position to allow it to continue, it's offensive, and it hurts. i get emotional thinking about what was lost with kids. do you know how many kids we've lost already?
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we can't change the past, but we can take something from this and go forward. >> my name is raymond, i'm the director for the lakota sioux tribes. >> a group of tribal icwa directors have come together in rapid city. >> today is a monumental day because we're here to make changes to move forward. it's like a new beginning for us. >> they try to come to a new agreement with the state's attorney, mark fargo. >> i'm very comfortable if we go around the table the goal of every person in this room is essentially the same. the question becomes nuts and bolts how do we set up processes or eliminate processes that get us to our goals enter.
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>> officials from dss were at the meeting but asked us not to film them. >> this law enforcement was more aware of training. >> it might not be a bad idea to provide assistance to law enforcement because you're right, they can only do what they know. >> we're saying we all want to do something, well, why can't we do it? >> juanita is the icwa directer for the oglala unite siuox tribe. >> they become the person in the orange suits, in jails n shackles. somebody tell me i'm wrong . i'm not wrong. i'm tired of seeing our kids
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hang themselves when they come home. these kids , this is up to you. let's start a new beginning. >> by the end of the meeting the icwa directors and the state had each an informal agreement to hold another meeting two weeks after the child is taken into custody. it's a push dss to place children in native families. >> at little wound school a new generation is proudly celebrating lakota tradition. [♪ singing ] [♪ singing ] >> our kids need to know who
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they are, where they come . there is a song in the ceremony for everything that we do. >> for many tribes the long-term goal is the complete independence of the state and power to control child welfare for all native families. federal dollars are available if tribes can find the matching funds they need. but with native funds already critically underfunded . >> this is old news. old treaties. why don't you go to one of these indian reservations, particularly one that is in pretty difficult situation and ask yourself if you contributed to that by being part of the government or country that broke virtually all of the promises that were made?
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don't you feel some responsibility? you should. >> we have to be responsible. we have to stand up and take responsibility. we need to say okay, these are our kids. we are saying we want them back. but what are we going to do when we bring them home? what are we going to do for our kids? we have to have a plan. we need to make positive permanent change for all of our people. and so you know, that's what i'm hope something going to happen.
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check check >> this is al jazeera america live from new york. i'm jonathan betz with the top stories. >> syrian rebel leaders agreed to attend internationally brokered peace talks. after a long debate the syrian national coalition voted yes in istanbul. >> the talks begin in four days. >> officials in egypt announce the approval of a military-backed opposition in the first vote since a coup toppled the leadership. >> a deadly stampede - 18 died and many hurt as thousands gather in mumbai to