Rod Cavanaugh, superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs agency at Fort Totten, N.D., and a key figure in the continuing child protection issue at the Spirit Lake Nation, has taken early retirement, officials confirmed Wednesday.
New federal law giving tribal courts limited jurisdiction in domestic violence cases involving non-Indians gives new hope to Indian women while safeguarding due process rights of the accused, according to U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon and a leading victims advocate.
The Spirit Lake Nation has endured a great deal of scrutiny and harsh commentary over the past year concerning the safety of its children. Rep. Kevin Cramer's remarks and a new PBS documentary draw eyes again to the reservation.
A state district court magistrate found probable cause Friday to have a Spirit Lake Nation social services official arraigned on charges stemming from a 2012 incident at the Grand Forks apartment of his former wife.
Most of the cases involving at-risk Spirit Lake Nation children cited in earlier reports of suspected child abuse have not been investigated or dealt with by responsible federal, state or tribal officials, a federal whistle blower alleges in his 12th such report.
A child with routinely soiled underpants as a defense against rape. Little boys brazenly engaging in outdoor sex acts. Children left in homes with known sexual predators. Those incidents are among an alleged “ongoing epidemic” of children who remain at risk on North Dakota’s Spirit Lake reservation despite four months of abuse reports from Thomas Sullivan, a regional human services administrator.
A federal official who has repeatedly reported allegations of child abuse at Spirit Lake Nation wrote Tuesday to complain that investigators have failed to take action to protect victims from ongoing abuse.
The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, which assumed responsibility for child protection services at Spirit Lake Monday, likely will manage the program for several years before returning responsibility to the tribe, said Bruce Loudermilk, the BIA’s regional director.
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