Sioux Mother Jailed for Rescuing Her Abused Sons; Tribe Steps Up

Heather Steinberger, Indian Country Today


The past 11 months have been long, hard months for a Rosebud Sioux mother named Audre’y Eby. Last August, she picked up her twin 16-year-old sons from her ex-husband’s Iowa residence to bring them to visit her home in western Nebraska, and she discovered that the special-needs boys — one is blind and autistic, and the other has cerebral palsy — had been abused.

RELATED: Sioux Mother Rescues Abuses Children, Faces Arrest

Emergency room doctors told her she’d be reported for child endangerment if she returned the boys to Iowa. Then an Iowa court issued a warrant for her arrest if she did not return them.

Caught between the laws of two states, Eby appeared in Iowa’s Plymouth District Court before Judge Steven Andreason this past May, under threats of criminal prosecution for kidnapping in Iowa and being reported for child endangerment in Nebraska. Her ex-husband’s attorneys, she said, demanded that she immediately return the boys.

“They put me on the stand,” Eby said. “They had me go through what happened, and they made me cry in court. I said, ‘I will not bring my kids back. I can’t.’ I had to say that. I’d looked at the judge in the eye and swore to tell the truth, and my sons were watching me fight for them.”

Because she wouldn’t agree to return the children, Eby was sentenced to seven days in jail to clear up the kidnapping charge. To cushion the blow, she and her husband, Faron, made sure the boys had a vacation, complete with pool time, pizza, hanging out and, “from what I hear, lots of chocolate,” she said.

Eby served her time from June 2-9. Meanwhile, according to the Plymouth County District Attorney, no charges have been filed against the boys’ father or his live-in partner over the multiple founded and documented cases of abuse with Iowa Child Protective Services.

There has been some good news, however. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is now involved with Eby’s case; it ordered its own investigation, and it’s paying for her Iowa attorney.

“My tribe didn’t get involved until the story broke about me and my kids, and then they ordered the investigation,” Eby said. “When I came home from jail, there was a message waiting for me. They’re completely backing me. We’re moving forward with the Indian Child Welfare Act.”

And, perhaps even more importantly, Eby’s twin sons are thriving – as they see a physical therapist at Sand Hills Physical Therapy in Mullen, Nebraska. In fact, the son with cerebral palsy recently walked 203 steps on his own.

“He’s ecstatic,” Eby reported, “and so is his brother. They’re so connected. His brother says, ‘We walked 203 steps.’ They’re so supportive of each other. They cheer each other on, and they cheer on the other clients. The therapy center is normally a quiet place, and with them, the energy level just zooms.”

Meanwhile, the brother who is blind has been a regular on the elliptical machine.

“He owns that,” Eby said proudly. “He’s usually at about 6.8, which is an all-out run. When we first brought them here, our first goal was to get them healthy, and now we’re working on calorie intake. They’re so active now.”

They’ve also been able to reduce their medications. Between them, the twins are now on just three medications.

“You can’t medicate abuse,” Eby reflected. “In this environment, we don’t have the behaviors that were showing up in Iowa, so they don’t need all those medicines anymore.”

Until now, Eby and her husband were paying out-of-pocket for all of the boys’ care, a tough prospect on an hourly feedlot wage, she noted.

“Fortunately, we have a payment plan with urgent care,” she said. “But when medicines are copy,000 apiece, there’s just no way to keep up. This month, though, we’ll finally start getting their Medicaid benefits here in Nebraska.”

Despite the stress of the ongoing legal battles, Eby said she takes great pleasure in spending time with her sons.

“They talk about all their plans for the future, even dating,” she said, chuckling. “Their father wanted to put them in separate homes against their wishes, but there’s an assisted living facility in Kearney that can take them both. We’re so glad to have them here, but they’re in their late teens, and eventually they want to have their own apartment.

“People love my boys, because they’re so funny, and so happy,” she continued. “They take a lot of energy, but it’s worth every minute. I also try to remember that all of this is bigger than me. For some reason, God chose me for this fight. So I’m blessed.”




Blackfeet Man Jailed for Speaking Out, Hits Back Harder

Adrian Jawort, ICTMN

Never one to stray from saying what he really feels, Blackfeet tribal member Byron Farmer actually spent five days in a tribal jail in July for speaking out against his divided tribal government’s alleged corruption. Farmer, the de facto leader of the Blackfeet Against Corruption group, said he was arrested over free speech violations as not once did he threaten anyone in his BAC Facebook post stating about a proposed parade float: “We promise it will be exciting and make headlines worldwide. And we can tell you we are not planning anything violent or illegal so they (tribal council) will not be able to stop us.”

RELATED: Tired of Corruption, Mont. Tribal Members and the Guardians Fight Back

Although Farmer’s actions are protected under the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act, locally the Blackfeet Tribe deemed it a violation of the Blackfeet Ordinance 67 which protects council members against libelous “or misleading statements meant to harm, injure, discredit” them. Farmer’s attorney, David Gordon, writes, “They’re basically saying if you criticize the tribal council you’re going to go to jail and that’s frightening.”

Indian Country Today Media Network caught up with the always fiery Farmer to see what good jail did to him.

Was being arrested and jailed for five days over a free speech issue worth it?

I didn’t much like it. Our jails aren’t country clubs. I am a big guy so was never in danger, but I have to admit I was very angry. It was hardest on my family, but they understood the importance of BAC’s mission. But yeah, it did a firestorm of good. My five days in jail brought BAC millions of dollars in free national coast-to-cost advertising about what’s going on in our home. My arrest was the trigger that finally swung around the big national media spotlight to shine right on the Blackfeet Reservation, where it caught tribal leadership speechless, embarrassed, and scurrying. Ever since then the Blackfeet Tribal Council has been on the defensive and under non-stop media and legal pressure.

Where you surprised about the firestorm your arrest caused?

Americans may not understand the mysterious inner workings of Indian country, but they sure as hell understand what free speech is. So the national media immediately jumped on the news and printed my Facebook postings that triggered my imprisonment. Americans read my tame, innocuous comments and couldn’t believe that that sort of clearly Constitutionally-protected speech aimed at elected leaders could result in an arrest, let alone jail in America. People everywhere were really bewildered and angry and that fueled more media coverage. But I would have gladly done five months if that’s what it took to wake up the world to what is going on here.

What do you think of emerging as the BAC de facto leader?

I am not the leader of BAC, I am just one of many right-thinking Blackfeet that have been trying for years to push back the tidal wave of corruption that has engulfed the Blackfeet Tribe. Events and momentum may be on our side now, but for years we felt like tiny voices in the wilderness constantly being threatened and attacked. The reason my name is out there are four things that make my role possible. First, I live in Great Falls, beyond the reach of the BTBC and Tribal Police – I was on the reservation visiting family when they arrested me, so apparently they were waiting for me. Second, I am willing to loudly and relentlessly speak out, come what may. Third, neither I nor my immediate family depends on the tribe for a paycheck so they can’t use their favorite weapon – firing people – on me. Fourth, over time whistle blowers have come to trust me and BAC as a reliable, confidential outlet for things they want other Blackfeet to know. So, as anyone can see from BAC’s Facebook page, my inbox gets the goods almost every day and I never reveal my sources.

Most have to keep a low profile so they don’t lose their jobs or face other retaliation from the BTBC. Second, BAC doesn’t take credit for any of the good stuff that has been happening lately such as the indictments. All we do is keep up constant intense pressure on the bad guys with a steady drumbeat of reliable news, analysis, predictions, inside scoops, and the publishing of documents the BTBC want kept secret. Third, BAC will never give up and we have lots more to do.

RELATED: Montana Guardians Project Aims to Deter Indian Country Corruption