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Published August 28, 2012, 06:59 PM

Advocates Say Still Not Enough Being Done for Spirit Lake Children

Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake reservation has grabbed the attention of federal and BIA officials, who are in Fort Totten this week discussing what can be done with tribal leaders. But for those who have been following the controversy for months, it appears nothing has been done to improve child welfare on the reservation.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake reservation has grabbed the attention of federal and BIA officials, who are in Fort Totten this week discussing what can be done with tribal leaders. But for those who have been following the controversy for months, it appears nothing has been done to improve child welfare on the reservation.

ACF administrator Tom Sullivan has sent a fourth report on tribal child abuse, this time to North Dakota US attorney Tim Purdon. Both he and people on the reservation say not much has changed since the controversy erupted.

Pam Baker began taking care of three of her grandchildren last month after she says their mother abandoned them in Wyoming. She's been trying to gain emergency custody for two weeks. She went to social services yesterday looking for help filling out the custody paperwork. She says she was ignored.

Jessica Ramey-Gillam, Child Advocate: “There was a building full of individuals at tribal social services, and this grandmother was adrift in them.”

Gillam was also there hoping to talk to BIA representatives. She didn't get the chance to visit with federal reps, but she was able to help Baker.

Gillam: “I ended up helping her with her emergency custody request.”

This comes on the heels of the latest report by Tom Sullivan with the Administration for Children and Families. In it he accuses the former secretary of the state department of human services and the state's child welfare director of ignoring previous reports. Sullivan says he wants them investigated for child endangerment.

Gillam:” We should all be mandatory reporters. If we see something suspicious with a child, you should question it. That's how we keep each other safe.”

Despite the B-I-A coming to the reservation Gillam says she doesn't think life is any easier for children on the reservation.

Gillam: “The citizenry of the united states does not buy the pablum anymore. We know there's a problem. We want the problem dealt with.”

The BIA has sent temporary social workers to the reservation and the tribe's priority is to hire more. Welfare advocates say that is a start but still nowhere near enough to solve the problem for good.

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