Elders are very important and highly respected within our tribal structure. They are the caretakers of our rich culture and traditions. The Indian Child Welfare Act, in recognition, gives priority to grandparents when placing children who are in need. We also, as a people, wish to emphasize elder's rights and protection by making them a part of our laws. The Indian Child Welfare Act, defines "extended family" as the child's grandparent, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, brother-in-law or sister-in-law, niece or nephew, first or second cousin, stepparent or any other person defined by law or custom of the tribe.

The Court, in its discretion, may grant visitation rights with or without petition by the grandparents, if it is in the best interest of the grandchild.

The grandparents of a child may petition the Court for grandchild (ren) visitation rights in the following circumstances:

1. The parents of the children) are divorced or legally separated; or
2. An action for divorce or separate maintenance has been commenced by one of the parents of the child (ren); or
3. The parent of the child (ren), who is the child of the grandparent, has died.

56-03-02 The preceding provisions cited in 56-01-01, 56-02-01, and 56-03-01 inclusive, do not apply if the child (ren) has been placed for adoption with a person other than the child (ren)'s stepparent or grandparent. Any grandparent visitation rights granted pursuant to 56-01-01, 56-02-01, and 56-03-01, inclusive prior to placement for adoption of the child (ren) for adoption, except in those cases of "open adoption" as defined in Section 38-03-37.

Any person or caretaker who is convicted for a violation of the following defined provisions in Section 56-06-02 through 56-06-07 shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a maximum of six (6) months in jail and to a fine of not more than -three hundred and sixty dollars ($360.00), plus court costs. (Class A Offense)

Any person or caretaker who has reasonable cause to suspect or who witnesses abuse of an elder shall report the abuse or suspected abuse to the Tribal Prosecutor, or in his/her stead, a police officer, or social worker, immediately. Any person or caretaker who, without good cause, fails to report abuse or suspected abuse of the elder shall be guilty of an offense and upon conviction thereof shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a minimum of ten (10) days and/or fine of not less than thirty-five -dollars ($35.00), plus court costs. (Class E Offense)


56-06-02 ABUSE - means the willful infliction of physical injury or pain, sexual abuse, mental anguish, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, financial exploitation, the willful deprivation by a caretaker of the basic necessities of life; such as, but not limited to, food, shelter, clothing and personal care which are necessary to prevent physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness, or any other type of maltreatment. However, no person shall be deemed to be abused for the sole reason that they are being furnished traditional remedial treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone in accordance with their religious beliefs.

56-06-03 ELDER - means any person who has attained the age of fifty-five (55) years.

56-06-04 CARETAKER - means an individual who has the responsibility for the care of an elder, either voluntarily, by contract, receipt of payment for care as a result of a family relationship, or by an order of a court competent jurisdiction.

56-06-05 EXPLOITATION - means the act or process of using an elder or their resources for another person's profit, advantage, gain, or for monetary or personal benefit without legal entitlement.

56-06-06 PHYSICAL INJURY - means bodily pain, harm, impairment caused malnutrition.

56-06-07 MENTAL ANGUISH - means to subject an elder to fear, agitation, confusion, sever depression, or other forms of serious emotional distress through threats, harassment, or other forms of intimidating behavior.

Reports may -be made to the Tribal Court Prosecutor,- a police officer, or social worker. Anyone participating in good faith in the-making of a report pursuant to the Elder Abuse provisions shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed, and shall have the same immunity with respect to participation in any court proceeding resulting from such report. The Tribal Court Prosecutor, police officer, or social worker shall reduce to writing the following information from an informant:

1. Name, age, and address of elder alleged to be abused;
2. Name and address of person or caretaker in charge of elder who is subject of the report;
3. Name and address of alleged perpetrator;
4. Nature and extent of the abuse;
5. Persons who might have been aware of the abuse;
6. Dates) and locations) of when and where the alleged abuse occurred;
7. Any other pertinent information known to the person making the report.

The name of any person who reports suspected abuse of elders shall not be disclosed to any person unless the person who reported the abuse specifically requests such disclosure or a judicial proceeding results from such report.

The Chief Judge shall - with the advice and consent of the existing elderly groups and if circumstances warrant -appoint a special board who shall evaluate circumstances and make remedial recommendations. The Board shall have at least one (1) elder and shall consist of not less than (3) nor more than five (5) members, in an ad hoc capacity. The Board's primary responsibilities shall consist of evaluating what services need to be mobilized on the elder's behalf and shall include, but not be limited to, arrangement for appropriate living quarters, obtaining financial benefits to which the person is entitled, securing medical services and supplies, and in cases where exploitation, prevention of injury, protection of the person and their property is at issue, seeking alternative living quarters. The Board shall request and have at its disposal all those services from agencies serving the people of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe to carry out its objectives.

If any clause, sentence, paragraph, section, or part of this code shall, for any reason be adjudicated by any Court of competent jurisdiction, to be invalid or unconstitutional, such judgement shall not affect, impair, or invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, section, or part thereof directly involved in the controversy in which the judgement shall have been rendered.

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