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Published September 14, 2012, 06:45 PM

BIA to Take Control of Spirit Lake Social Services Programs

FARGO – The Bureau of Indian Affairs will assume control of social services programs for the Spirit Lake Tribe, which has been beset with criticisms that it has failed to protect endangered children.

By: Patrick Springer, Inforum

FARGO – The Bureau of Indian Affairs will assume control of social services programs for the Spirit Lake Tribe, which has been beset with criticisms that it has failed to protect endangered children.

The decision was conveyed late this afternoon to the office of Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., who had called for a prompt decision over whether the tribe should be allowed to keep running its social services.

“BIA’s informed our office that they will be taking over the tribal social services,” said Ryan Bernstein, Hoeven’s deputy chief of staff and legal counsel.

“I was told that the tribe passed a resolution today ceding it back to the BIA, basically giving it to the government to run,” Bernstein said, adding that he hadn’t yet seen the letter from the BIA formally informing the tribe of its decision, or the resolution from the tribal council.

As a result, the federal government will assume the administration of social services programs. Earlier, the tribe ran the programs under contract with the BIA, which provides funding.

The decision followed an on-site review in Fort Totten this week of the tribe’s progress in correcting deficiencies involving social services, including illegal placement of foster children.

Critics have said the tribe had ignored many reports of child abuse and neglect over the past five years.

The most notable cases of endangered children involved the murders last year of two siblings and the death this summer of an infant whose family suspects neglect.

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