LIHEAP and Native Americans

Native American tribes fear end of federal heating help, Associated Press, April 15, 2017, Billings Gazette: “Eva Iyotte was waiting on propane ordered under a federal energy assistance program President Donald Trump has targeted for elimination when she lost power at her home on frozen tribal land in South Dakota. ¬†As the January conditions sent temperatures plummeting inside the house, the 63-year-old, her daughter and two grandsons took blankets to their car, where they waited with the heater running until the electricity was restored…”

First Nations Child Poverty – Canada

Half of First Nations children live in poverty, By Amber Hildebrandt, June 19, 2013, CBC News: “Half of status First Nations children in Canada live in poverty, a troubling figure that jumps to nearly two-thirds in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, says a newly released report. ‘The poverty rate is staggering. A 50 per cent poverty rate is unlike any other poverty rate for any other disadvantaged group in the country, by a long shot the worst,’ said David Macdonald, a senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and co-author of the report. The study released late Tuesday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Save the Children Canada found that the poverty rate of status First Nations children living on reserves was triple that of non-indigenous children…”

Rural Poverty Rates

SD has highest rural poverty rate in Great Plains, By Marcus Traxler, May 23, 2012, Mitchell Daily Republic: “South Dakota has the highest rate of rural poverty in a 10-state region of the Great Plains, and more than one-fourth of the state’s rural children live in poverty, according to a report by the Center for Rural Affairs. According to 2010 census data used in the report, 20.6 percent of South Dakotans in rural counties live in poverty. That’s 44,973 of the state’s 218,821 rural residents. Montana was the next closest state with a rural poverty rate of 17.8 percent. A rural county is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as a county with a population center less than 10,000 residents in size and is not in a metropolitan or micropolitan area…”

Native American Child Welfare – Washington

Tribe takes control of child welfare from state, By Jennifer Sullivan, March 28, 2012, Seattle Times: “Jessie Scheibner’s eyes cloud with tears and her voice trembles as she talks about the day, almost 70 years ago, when a stranger’s car pulled up to her parents’ home on the Port Gamble S’Klallam Reservation and took her and her two sisters away. The memories of that car ride when she was 3 and the years spent in one foster home after another are hazy. Foster care was difficult enough, but Scheibner, now 72, clearly recalls being ashamed of her dark hair, brown skin and Native American roots as she bounced from home to home off the reservation. She eventually was reunited with her mother and her sisters when she was 7, but the emotional scars remain. For decades, children who were removed from their homes in child-welfare cases among the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and other tribes across the United States were taken off their reservations and placed in the homes of nontribal members. Because individual states handled child-welfare issues for Native-American tribes, including foster care, abused and neglected children were forced to leave their communities and, often, their cultures…”

Foster Care – Washington, South Dakota

  • Overhaul to foster-care system wins approval, By Jennifer Sullivan, October 31, 2011, Seattle Times: “A years-long effort to overhaul the state’s foster-care system, making home placements more stable for children and keeping caseloads manageable for social workers, will be completed in just over two years. Under an agreement signed Monday, the state will have a far different child-welfare system in place by the end of 2013 than it did when a class-action lawsuit on behalf of foster children was filed in 1998. The case, known by state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) officials as Braam, is named after plaintiff Jessica Braam, who had been bounced through 34 foster-care placements by the time she was 12 years old. Her story became emblematic of problems that plagued the foster-care system overseen by the DSHS…”
  • Governor’s office calls NPR foster care report flawed; congressmen seek review, By Kevin Woster, November 1, 2011, Rapid City Journal: “Staffers for Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Monday attacked a National Public Radio report critical of state child-protection programs that remove Native American children from their homes for foster-care placement, saying NPR was biased and inaccurate in its reporting. But two members of the U.S. House of Representatives thought the NPR report was valid enough to call for an investigation into whether those South Dakota child protection policies and practices with Native American families violate federal law. U. S. Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Dan Boren, D-Okla., sent a letter to Larry Echo Hawk, assistant secretary of the Interior Department for Indian Affairs, calling for the investigation. They allege, as the NPR report implies, that South Dakota violates the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law that directs officials to place Native American children removed from homes with their relatives or tribes, except in unusual situations…”

NPR Series on Foster Care and Native American Children

Native foster care: Lost children, shattered families, Series homepage, By Laura Sullivan and Amy Walters, National Public Radio: “Nearly 700 Native American children in South Dakota are being removed from their homes every year, sometimes in questionable circumstances. An NPR News investigation has found that the state is largely failing to place them according to the law. The vast majority of native kids in foster care in South Dakota are in nonnative homes or group homes, according to an NPR analysis of state records…”

Poverty in Ziebach County, South Dakota

A look inside America’s poorest county, By Nomaan Merchant (AP), February 13, 2011, Kansas City Star: “In the barren grasslands of Ziebach County, there’s almost nothing harder to find in winter than a job. This is America’s poorest county, where more than 60 percent of people live at or below the poverty line. At a time when the weak economy is squeezing communities across the nation, recently released census figures show that nowhere are the numbers as bad as here – a county with 2,500 residents, most of them Cheyenne River Sioux Indians living on a reservation. In the coldest months of the year, when seasonal construction work disappears and the South Dakota prairie freezes, unemployment among the Sioux can hit 90 percent. Poverty has loomed over this land for generations. Repeated attempts to create jobs have run into stubborn obstacles: the isolated location, the area’s crumbling infrastructure, a poorly trained population and a tribe that struggles to work with businesses or attract investors…”