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Judge dismisses challenge to tribal education services

October 2, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by two Native American tribes in South Dakota over the federal government’s reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Education.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe contended that the Department of Interior failed to properly consult with them about the reorganization of the tribes’ education services agency, as required by federal law. The Bureau of Indian Education is a division within the Interior Department that operates schools on reservations and gives over control of some schools to tribes through contracts or grants.

The tribes also argued that the department’s decision violates the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, which required the government to provide teachers on the reservations.

But Judge Karen Schreier ruled that the department’s consultation with the tribes was enough to meet federal law requirements, the Argus Leader reported.

Twelve Bureau of Indian Education regional and individual consultation sessions were held with tribes in 2015. The government used the sessions to gather information on challenges faced by Bureau of Indian Education schools. Eight of the sessions were in South Dakota, which included individual consultations with the Cheyenne River and Rosebud tribes.

Schreier noted in her ruling that the Bureau of Indian Education made several changes to its plans as the result of its meeting with the South Dakota tribes.

“These meetings not only built upon one another but had a substantive impact on several BIE decisions,” Schreier wrote.

She also said that the government showed that restructuring the bureau isn’t connected to the treaty’s text and “inconsistent with the understanding that the signatories to the Treaty would have had.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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