About

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LPLP History

In 2004, a group of grandmothers in Lakota country—an area comprised of nine Indian reservations in North and South Dakota—asked us to investigate and help them prevent South Dakota's Department of Social Services from removing their grandchildren from their families. The investigation uncovered that drugging and routine patterns of physical and mental abuse of Native children in foster care were leading to high levels of youth suicide. These atrocities are in direct violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law put into place in 1978. In response, we formed The Lakota People’s Law Project (LPLP) to help put a stop to the cycles of injustice leading to the slow genocide of the Lakota.

Our first program, the ongoing Lakota Child Rescue Project, launched in 2005 to address the actions we discovered, and to assist in the return of Lakota children to their families, tribes, and communities. This mission has expanded to include the creation of a tribal foster care program funded with direct Title IV-E funds from the federal government, bypassing the state of South Dakota. 

It was natural for us to expand our mission when the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) threatened the Lakota’s sacred lands and water. The injustices perpetrated against the Lakota during the peaceful and prayerful resistance to DAPL further demonstrate the government’s blatant pattern of contempt and disregard for the Lakota and their sovereignty.

LPLP engages in ongoing efforts to reclaim ancestral lands, and to stop all threats to Lakota land and resources. We believe that Native peoples possess inherent sovereignty and the right to autonomous rule and self-determination. The Lakota flourished for centuries before Europeans arrived on these lands, and their tradition of living in relation to all things is more important today than ever before. We are committed to working with the Lakota toward the revitalization of their people and culture. Learn more about our campaigns and discover how you can get involved!

Local Lakota Staff

Chase Iron Eyes, Esq.

Lead Counsel

Chase Iron Eyes, Esq.

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Madonna Thunder Hawk

Community Organizer

Madonna Thunder Hawk

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Phyllis Young

Standing Rock Organizer

Phyllis Young

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National Staff

Daniel Sheehan, Esq.

Chief Counsel and President

Daniel Sheehan, Esq.

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Sara Nelson

Executive Director

Sara Nelson

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Lanny Sinkin, Esq.

Managing Attorney

Lanny Sinkin, Esq.

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Danny Paul Nelson

Program Director, Lakota People's Law Project

Danny Paul Nelson

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Chris Sherertz

Videographer

Chris Sherertz

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Kelsey Hill

Social Media

Kelsey Hill

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Support Staff

Jon Conway, Ph.D.

Senior Research Analyst

Jon Conway, Ph.D.

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Paddy Sheehan

Archives and Facilities

Paddy Sheehan

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Jennifer Wilkie, Esq.

Development Director

Jennifer Wilkie, Esq.

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Simone Cardona

Website Editor and Program Assistant

Simone Cardona

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Christine Dindia

Executive Assistant

Christine Dindia

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Chuck Banner

Digital Media

Chuck Banner

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Jesse Phelps

Press Relations

Jesse Phelps

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