Daniel Sheehan, Esq.
A Harvard-trained attorney, Daniel has participated in some of the most important public interest cases of the last 40 years. His lawsuits have involved the Watergate and Iran-Contra Scandals, the Pentagon Papers, and the killing of Karen Silkwood. In 1973-74, he served as amicus counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union in regards to the occupation of Wounded Knee. In 1980, he co-founded the Christic Institute, a nonprofit public interest law center that—among many others cases—prosecuted members of the Ku Klux Klan in Greensboro, North Carolina, and represented victims of the Three Mile Island disaster in Pennsylvania. In his work with LPLP, Daniel has been a principal attorney in drafting the legal strategy for the federal Justice Department’s lawsuit against the State of South Dakota for its violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act . Having been present at the Standing Rock resistance camps, he is familiar with principal parties in the opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline and has asked to be defense counsel for several water protectors facing severe charges—including Chase Iron Eyes and Holy Elk. He is one of the small number of attorneys to be invited to join the Mni Wiconi Legal Defense and Offense Committee, along with Bruce Ellison.
LAKOTA PEOPLE'S LAW PROJECT
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!