FARGO -- Wednesday is Cheyienna Nygaard’s second birthday and she hasn’t seen her father, Aarin Nygaard, for five months.
It’s not by choice.
The girl’s mother, Tricia Taylor, is accused of taking the child and her 7-year-old sister from Fargo last August to the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Taylor was apparently afraid of losing custody of her two daughters after Cheyienna tested positive for meth in her hair follicles, results that were turned over to social service authorities, according to family spokesman Michael Nygaard of Fargo.
Michael said his nephew, Aarin, 24, of Fargo, passed the test.
“When she found out about the test, she flipped her lid,” Michael Nygaard said. “She wouldn’t agree to take a similar test.”
Ever since the girls were rushed off in the middle of the night, they have apparently been on the reservation in north-central South Dakota, west of the Missouri River, Nygaard said. Although the Nygaard family doesn’t know exactly where the two girls are, they believe the sisters are possibly with Taylor’s brother.
However, there have been developments in the case.
On the day before Thanksgiving, after several legal maneuverings in the case and getting the North Dakota U.S. Attorney’s office and the FBI involved, Taylor was arrested on a bench warrant by the FBI on the reservation for “removal of a child from the state in violation of custody decree” or as Michael Nygaard calls it “parental kidnapping.”
The 32-year-old Taylor is in the Cass County Jail on a $25,000 cash bond and will appear in court again in March. She does not face a drug charge.
Michael Nygaard said the FBI also was supposed to pick up and return the children to Fargo, but the tribal police and the tribe’s social services department said the “kids were fine and they would stay with their uncle” on the reservation.
So the mother was returned to Fargo, but not the children.
Two hearings were held in tribal court on the reservation on Sept. 16 and Nov. 5, where Aarin Nygaard and the father of the older child, Terrance Stanley, asked that the children be returned to them after a judge in Fargo had granted them both full custody.
When the tribal judge in the case, Rochelle Ducheneaux, was contacted this week, she said through her clerk that she had not yet decided if the children should be returned to their fathers.
Her clerk said the case was only heard last month, but Nygaard said the judge has had the case since the Nov. 5 hearing -- almost three months.
Nygaard said he was told by tribal authorities that if he stepped foot on the reservation, he would be arrested. So the family has stayed away.
However, the family has enlisted attorneys, the South Dakota Department of Social Services and even the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare for advice and to help with getting the children back.
In the meantime, the two fathers have racked up about $30,000 in legal bills and a fund has been set up at Gate City Bank to help pay their bills in the case. A Facebook page has also been dedicated to the case at facebook.com/csntrs (the girls’ initials).
Michael Nygaard said there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes, too.
In the end, he believes the girls will be returned to their fathers and that the mother will “sit in jail for a long time.”
For now, though, Aarin Nygaard and his family will miss an important second birthday.