Controversy continues to surround allegations of child abuse and neglect on the Spirit Lake Reservation.
Today, federal authorities met with tribal members for a progress report. In October, the Federal, Bureau of Indian Affairs took control of the Spirit Lake tribe's social service programs, related to child abuse and neglect. There were numerous complaints about how it was being run.
However, a lot of people say there are still a lot of problems with the program, under federal control. During a meeting here at the Spirit Lake Casino, tribal members say there needs to be more money spent to hire more people to work with child abuse and neglect cases…. here on the reservation.
Sister Joanne Streifel, Suicide Prevention Program: "No, I don't believe that a whole lot has changed. They're still trying to put children back into homes that have offenders in them or back into homes where the parents haven't done anything in term of rehabilitating themselves."
Robin Poor Bear, Spirit Lake: "And my kids were taken and they were placed back in with my ex-husband's family and he's the perpetrator."
U.S. Attorney, Tim Purdon was quick to respond to allegations that some cases are never investigated. He says every reported case of child abuse or neglect is investigated. But, he also asked for tribal help.
Tim Purdon, U.S. Attorney: "We need the people who have direct evidence. Witnesses who've seen things. That is the way you build cases in court. Not through rumors that get relayed to us third hand."
Lawrence Roberts, Bureau Indian Affairs: "Folks that are here on the ground working on this day in and day out are working their hearts out here."
Roberts, is the number 2 man at the B.I.A. in Washington. He says they are hiring more people to work on cases at Spirit Lake.
However, six-months after a federal take-over of social services, opinion is mixed to say the least, on whether the federal government is actually improving life for the children of Spirit Lake.