2017-03-16 / Front Page

Two Spirit Community Denounce SD Law


A new South Dakota law will make it hard for Two Spirit families to adopt children. 
Photo by Jenni Monet A new South Dakota law will make it hard for Two Spirit families to adopt children. Photo by Jenni Monet PINE RIDGE – South Dakota has joined three other states in enacting a law that many say discriminates against the LGBT/Two Spirit communities.

The new law signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard last week will prohibit the state from punishing adoption agencies who refuse to place children in the homes of LGBT families if the decisions is religiously based.

According to the Associated Press, Daugaard, said prior to signing the bill that he feared adoption agencies could be the target of litigation when denying placement to someone in a “protected class,” such as members of the LGBT community.

Many across Lakota Country, however, have taken offense to the law considering South Dakota’s history of placing high numbers of Lakota children in foster care. Most recently a federal judge ruled that the state has been systematically denying Lakota families their right to due-process during emergency 48-hour custody hearings. An act that is in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The state in response has appealed the decision.

For the Two Spirit community, the measure is a blatant slap in the face as anti-LGBT laws such as this have long been rooted in stereotypes. Two Spirit people had been considered sacred by nearly every Indigenous society in North America prior to the onset of colonization.

“I am disgusted and offended on multiple spectrums with South Dakota’s passing of the nation’s first anti-LGBTQ bill of 2017… I take this extremely personal as SD Bill-149 directly impacts the walk of my Two Spirit identity. Prior to colonial domination, the role of a Two Spirit individual was known as mediators, medicine people, sacred artists, name givers, counselors, healers and foster parents,” said Candice Brings Plenty, executive director of the Two Spirit Nation and Two Spirit Nation camp leader. The Two Spirit Nation advocates for visibility within the Indigenous spectrum of LGBTQ2S+ by reclaiming working to reclaim a sacred space in Indigenous communities, nationally, tribally and statewide. The group incorporates traditional and intergenerational practices and protocols to focus on guiding future generations.

Candice is also the daughter of longtime Oglala Sioux Leader Floyd Brings Plenty identifies as an Oglala Lakota citizen, Queer Indigenous, Two Spirit cis woman, who practices her Lakota spirituality fluently and is a single parent, the law would directly impact her family should she attempt to adopt a child in South Dakota.

“It is a part of our historical trauma for the white dominant oppressor to make genocidal decisions that impacts our generations and the livelihood to legally discriminate against not only LGBTQ folks, but specifically people of culture, single parents, gun owners, and elders,” said Brings Plenty.

Sloane Cornelius, who also identifies as Two Spirit, is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation and is the cofounder of the Facebook Page Savage Feminism, who helps Lakota youth reconnect with their identity and culture says that the law is unconstitutional and based in religious dogma.

“People like Governor Dennis Daugaard brandish their undying love for the founding fathers, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence, the same document that refers to us as ‘merciless Indian savages,’ and yet has a really, really hard time respecting one of the most fundamental ideas of the United States, separation of Church and State,” said Cornelius.

“Anti-LGBTQ ideology is based on nothing other than fundamentalist Christian ideology that sees LGBTQ people as an abomination, rather than valued and loved members of our communities that have existed since time immemorial. For politicians that champion small government as the final solution, they sure like sticking their big government in other people’s pants. What better way to ensure small government than to regulate and legalize hate speech and hate crimes against LGBTQ individuals,” she added.

Per the Associated Press Michigan, North Dakota and Virginia all have passed similar laws, but the South Dakota law is the first to pass since the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage. Legislatures in Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma are considering their own versions of the law.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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