Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pine Ridge woman wins lawsuit based on 1868 treaty

The federal government must pay a woman from the Pine Ridge Reservation nearly $600,000 after she was sexually assaulted by a military recruiter, a judge from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled.

Lavetta Elk, 26, a member of the
Oglala Sioux Tribe, cited the "bad men" provision of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. She said the government failed to protect her from being assaulted by the recruiter, who has left the military but never faced charges.

"Never before has this treaty been used to bring such a claim," attorney Adam Horowitz told The Sioux Falls Argus Leader. "It creates precedent for Native Americans who belong to tribes with treaties like this in effect."

A prior lawsuit that sought damages for boarding school abuses failed after a judge ruled that the "bad men" provision required the
Bureau of Indian Affairs to first adjudicate the claims.

Get the Story:

Native woman wins unprecedented case (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader 4/30)
Judge rules treaty obligations include reimbursement for pain and suffering (The Rapid City Journal 4/30)
Judge: 1868 Sioux Treaty Requires Damages (AP 4/30)

Court Decision:
Lavetta Elk v. US (April 28, 2009)

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