In his 11th “mandated report” concerning suspected child abuse at Spirit Lake, Thomas Sullivan, tells ACF superiors and other federal officials that he has “seen little that is substantial” to indicate that his detailed allegations have been taken seriously.
The 4-month-old infant was hospitalized for a month before being placed in foster care until last week, when the child was returned to its addicted mother, according to a report made to federal officials.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has handled more than 100 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect at the reservation. It has new procedures for placing children in foster homes and has hired a social worker. Earlier this week, some members of the Spirit Lake Tribe, however, complained that visible progress is not being made.
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.
An "Awareness and Healing" conference, which continues Friday with presentations on child protection, family violence and other issues, is part of the Spirit Lake tribe’s response to highly publicized concerns about child welfare on the reservation.
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.
Walk along a dusty street in one of the little reservation towns here, and the stereotypes scream their half-truths. Scruffy children play by abandoned cars, chased by scruffy dogs. Some houses appear abandoned, windows broken or boarded.
Little Owl out as Spirit Lake social services director Mark Little Owl, hired in mid-August by the Spirit Lake Tribe to restore its embattled social services department, will not continue as director after the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs takes over the department on Oct. 1, he confirmed Friday.
Looking down on the children trooping into the recreation center at the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation are 36 mugshots of sex offenders, kept there to warn them of adults they must not trust. It's an effort with added poignancy because of the trouble the reservation has had with its child protection and social service programs, which have failed so badly the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs is taking them over.
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