Drugging Native American Kids: Big Money Maker in South Dakota

by | Jul 25, 2016

The South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) has teamed up with psychiatrists and drug manufacturers in what has been called a “genocide-for-profit” scheme.

Native American children are being removed from their homes, placed into foster care homes and psychiatric facilities and routinely over-prescribed psychiatric drugs using protocols that begin kids on Ritalin and then move them onto Prozac, Zyprexa and a host of other anti-psychotic drugs.

Lakota parents and grandparents say it is routine for the DSS to send police to their homes day or night, forcibly removing their children.

Psychiatric drugs are forced on these children. There is no consent of parents, family or the children themselves.

According to Federal laws and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) this practice is illegal as these kids are supposed to be sent to live in Native American foster homes or the homes of other family members. However, 90% of these children are sent to non-Native American foster facilities or psychiatric centers.The ICWA reports these unbelievable statistics in South Dakota:

  • It is 10 times more likely for a Lakota child to be taken to foster care than a Caucasian child.
  • Native Americans children are 13.4% of the population of South Dakota yet almost 60% of all foster kids in the state are Native Americans.
  • DSS takes 724 Lakota children from their families each year.
  • Between 1999 and 2009 the amount spent on psychiatric drugs for Native American foster kids increased 11 times.

Many Lakota children in foster care are being involuntarily administered as many as five adult psychiatric drugs every day, including: Zyprexa, Geodon, Prozac, and Abilify — all of which are prohibited by the FDA from being administered to children without the consent of their parent or guardian.
These anti-psychotics are known to produce suicidal thoughts and suicides. Is it any wonder that the suicide rate for Lakota kids in South Dakota is 12 times the US average?
When the children reach age 18 they are “aged out” of the state’s foster care system. The Lakota Peoples Law Project reports that over 63% of these children are either homeless, in prison or dead by the time they reach 20 years old.
A cocktail of psychiatric drugs is not “care” and these statistics prove it.
Daniel Sheehan is an activist and attorney who went to the DSS to see what was going on there. He made a video entitled South Dakota Exposed: Why the Department of Social Services Preys on Native Families.
He discovered that the DSS is 53% of the South Dakota state budget! The state receives $79,000 annually in federal funds for each child in foster care who is designated as a “special needs” child.
Sheehan also discovered that this all began in 1996 when George Bush was governor of Texas and put in place mandatory mental health screening testing for kids prior to going into foster care. This was the infamous Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) which resulted in lawsuits due to drug company fraud and illegal payoffs involved in the program. This is the algorithm that led to kids getting anti-psychotic medications normally allowed to be prescribed only to severely psychotic adults.
In other words, psychiatrists were experimenting on these kids.
When Bush became President he expanded this program of mental screening to apply to all states in order for them to receive federal funding. This was approved in 2001.
Psychologists and psychiatrists admit that the screening test is culturally biased for Native American kids because 98% of them test out to be “special needs” children – a convenient financial bonanza for the cash strapped South Dakota government.
More foster kids with special needs equals more income for the state as only a small part of that $79,000 per child is given to the foster care facilities – the rest goes to the state to use. Additionally, the increased psychiatric drugs sales keep the pharmaceutical companies in a happy frame of mind when it comes time to give campaign donations to South Dakota politicians running for re-election in the state government.
Lakota People Tell Their Stories
Keeping children locked in foster care and psychiatric facilities is destroying the traditional culture and family structure that the Lakota have been working to rebuild since the era of enforced boarding schools.
Many Lakota feel this foster care system is the new boarding school.
Chase Iron Eyes explains that all nine South Dakota Tribal Councils agree the solution is a Lakota-run foster care and family service system. Paperwork has been filed to create such a system and channel federal funds away from the DSS and into this new program.
The Lakota People’s Law Project created a video called Hearts on the Ground: Bring Lakota Children Home to show the world what the foster care program and drugging of kids is really like in South Dakota.
Here are their stories:
Neighbors said there was fighting and drinking going on in a house and called DSS who sent the police. Telly, the father, was hit with a stun gun, beaten and taken to jail. Lisa, the mother, explained how they took away her two boys, one who was just one year old. Police would not let other Native American adults there at the scene take custody of the kids even though that is what the law allows. Shortly after the children were seized, the court issued a “parental rights termination” severing Telly and Lisa’s rights to be parents of their boys.
Ilene, the boy’s grandmother was told by the court she could adopt her grand-kids, but first she’d have to take foster care classes, have home inspections to qualify as a foster home, etc. She immediately did everything they asked but after 6 years the state has still not allowed the children to go live with their parents, who now own a home together, or with their grandmother at her home.
Another mother named Tinnekkia told of how they took her son Diante and her younger son who is still not back in her custody.
They took Diante at age 5 into foster care and told him his mom didn’t want him anymore. He hated it there and just wanted to die. He tried to commit suicide at age 9 and age 12 while living in the foster care facility. Tinnekkia managed to get him out but not her other son.
Another boy named Zane was taken at age 12 to Canyon Hills Psychiatric Facility, a residential center licensed by DSS. He was put on Prozac and two other drugs he did not know the names of. If he didn’t take his meds they would physically restrain him and lock him in his room until he agreed to take the drugs. No doctor even discussed anything with Zane – he was told that he had been diagnosed and these were the drugs the court ordered for him. He never gave consent nor did his parents.
Arlen, a Native American, had a job as a caseworker with DSS. He knew by federal law that these foster kids should be placed with a Native American family to learn their culture but he saw 90% going into non-native homes or facilities. He left his DSS job in Nov of 2007 and 6 months later (perhaps in retaliation?) they took his son from him. It took Arlen, a totally competent parent, 4 months of court battles to get his son back.
Wherever psychiatry can find people they believe are easy prey they seem to appear quietly behind the scenes to wreck people’s lives in the name of helping them.
The DSS website lists its “Guiding Principles.”
These include:

  • We believe families have the right to be safe and secure.
  • We believe in providing opportunities and choices that support the needs of families through available and accessible services.
  • We believe in collaborative communications, teamwork, partnerships and trust for essential family services.
  • We believe in respecting individual and cultural differences by treating people with dignity, fairness and respect.

They might believe these things but they are not practicing them with Lakota families.
Hearts on the Ground refers to a Native American Proverb that says “A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.”
The Lakota clearly have not been conquered. They are spreading their story to all people of good heart.
These wise people intend to dismantle the system that is destroying their children and to remove psychiatric drugs from their reservations. They deserve support in this effort.


  1. Jenna Bennett

    Absolutely disgusting! This happens to families on reservations, constantly. It’s a deeper battle than meets the eye. [Tribal] Nation reps support the local authorities / governments – and “allow” or permit such things to happen on their “territory” to their own kind. In a sense, those in Nation leadership have to play the field on both sides: meaning, in meetings with American governmental entities / individuals – they get swayed to agree and commit to the agenda(s) of “the white man,” without considering the longer more damaging effects that will result to their own people (generations to come). Simply: tribal leaders lean toward the money (usually state / federal $$$) – if those with the funds (deals) will come rolling in by Nation leaders implementing Agenda XYZ, it in turn further causes the mass genocide, assimilation, dismantling of who and what Natives / Indigenous people naturally are. This article is only one aspect of the greater picture, but it epitomizes evil and the goal of the BIA/Fed/State/etc., to remove the “Indian,” “red man,” “savages,” at large.

  2. Patricia Boucher

    Where are the comments on this? Where are the activists? Wake up people! They’re coming for your kids next! These criminal actions must be stopped.


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