They once ‘declared war’ on the foster system, but now those officials stand by their side

Native Americans and their allies met for a march in Sioux City on Wednesday.
Native Americans and their allies met for a march in Sioux City on Wednesday.(KTIV)
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 4:03 PM CST
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - For two decades now, local Native American communities have hosted a memorial walk. It’s part protest, part gathering, and part celebration.

To give a sense of just how far the Native American community has come, think about this. This is a Native American activist recounting how two decades ago the community declared a war on the state foster care system. But now on the 20th Memorial March, a state foster care employee was here signifying lots of progress.

“A lot of our youth that we fought for 20 years ago, they’re grown, they’re adults, they have their families of their own, you know, and so, so that sign over there, it says our, in our children grow old, they must know that we fought for them,” said Manape LaMere, a Native American activist.

Over 300 men, women and children packed into the Urban Native Center in Sioux City before the procession made its way to the Woodbury County Courthouse. Despite the progress, those gathered say there’s more work to be done.

Advocates say when Native American children are put into the foster care system, they’re too often placed with non-Native American families.

“So it also covers our own solutions to our own problems and self-empowerment. And, I think those sort of things will contribute and we’re going to keep bringing some of our solutions to the table,” said LaMere.

There is a federal law meant to ensure Native children are placed with Native American families. But back in 2002, the year of the first Memorial March for Lost Children, the Des Moines Register reported Native children were seven times more likely to be placed in the foster care system.