10-Year-Old Boy Held on $500,000 Bond Awaits Next Court Date at Mental Health Facility

Michelle Tirado
5/21/13

A mere probation violation, according to a San Carlos Apache woman, garnered her 10-year-old grandson living on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana a $500,000 bond. She took to social media to raise awareness of what she views as an outrageous punishment against the boy, Isaiah Shane Nasewytewa, for getting into an altercation at St. Ignatius Elementary School, where he is enrolled. Now he awaits his next court date at a juvenile residential mental health facility.

Hon. Deborah Kim Christopher, a district court judge for Montana’s 20th Judicial District, set the bond at that staggering amount at a hearing on May 2, 2013. The incident violated the terms of probation for a felony burglary committed with other youths last year, according to Dorinda Buck, his grandmother and guardian since mid-January. His family was unable to raise that kind of money for the bond, so Isaiah was sent to the Reintegrating Youthful Offenders Correctional Facility in Galen, Montana.

The evening of the court hearing, Buck, 57, and one of her six daughters, Valerie Mardiz-Lupian (Salish & Kootenai), wrote a letter titled “Through the Eyes of a Grandmother” to explain Isaiah’s plight, and they posted it on Facebook, Twitter and emailed it to at least 50 people. The letter rapidly garnered support from family, friends and total strangers from across the country. It also caught the attention of local and national news outlets.

Christopher removed the bond following a May 8 hearing, with the condition that Isaiah be admitted to Acadia Montana, a residential mental health treatment facility for youth in Butte, Montana, pending the completion of a court-ordered neuropsychological evaluation. Buck believes the bond removal was a result of mounting media coverage, but she is disappointed that the judge would not allow Isaiah to go home after the hearing.

Still reeling from the $500,000 bond, Buck said, “What was she [Christopher] thinking? That has been my question. ‘Why are you doing this?’”

The Billings Gazette, a local paper that has been covering this story, reported on May 8 that the judge set the bond that high to make sure Isaiah completes the evaluation, noting that he missed three scheduled appointments for the evaluation in the past 14 months. Those appointments were with Sunburst Mental Health in St. Ignatius, according to Mardiz-Lupian, the family’s designated spokesperson. She pointed out that only one appointment was missed while Isaiah was in the care of his grandmother, and it was because Sunburst and Lake County Juvenile Probation did not know Buck was his guardian (she never received a letter for the appointment).

Isaiah, whose parents separated last year, has lived with Mardiz-Lupian, a mother of three, in Olympia, Washington, on and off since the day he was born. She knows her nephew very well, she stressed. “He is fun-loving, caring. He has a great sense of humor.”

Mardiz-Lupian blames some of the issues that Isaiah is going through on the public school that he has been attending in Montana. When he lived with her in Olympia, he went to Wa He Lut Indian School, where she said he had a perfect attendance record and had good marks. “I feel that Native American kids get treated unfairly at that school,” she said. “Every time Isaiah would do something, they would call the cops on him.”

Terry Cross (Seneca), director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, could not comment too much on this case, because he was not too familiar with it when ICTMN contacted him, but he did say it was unusual. “You can’t second guess what a judge is trying to do in a situation like this. It really seems like the agencies involved really need to collaborate and cooperate with one another.”

Buck said that the reading of Isaiah’s evaluation findings is scheduled for May 22 and that he will remain at Acadia Montana until at least May 23.

Buck, a grandmother of 27, just wants Isaiah to come home. “We miss him. He is a little boy with a big smile. He is funny. He is just loveable.”

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janet KL's picture
janet KL
Submitted by janet KL on
he's too young..not very good to have him somewhere where he is too young..courts shouldn't be about money..but, getting him back home and dealing with Probation as a kid that he is. Please get him out of there bfore more abuse in a place where he is scared of what is around him..doing something to becos he is upset..as no one listens to his feelings.

Valerie Madriz Lupian (Bourdon)'s picture
Valerie Madriz ...
Submitted by Valerie Madriz ... on
Please visit Dorinda Buck Facebook page for more coverage. Thanks and have a good day. Valerie M L Bourdon Spokesperson for family

Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
I want to know why this child wasn't dealt with in the juvenile tribal courts in Ronan, MT? I know this area very well. Why was this tribal child even being handled by this white judge? Just because he was not of that particular tribe, but his extended family members are it seems, he IS a First Nations child & as such, the tribal law, family services should have been the only law handling this case. St. Ignatius is in Lake County, which is also on the Salish & Kootenai reservation. The county seat is in Polson, MT, a short drive from St. Ignatius, MT. I would like to know why tribal isn't handling this case? This is not a judge I would want to be dealing with, whether tribal or white, she is a tough cookie as they say. Regardless, it seems there were miscommunications on the part of the judge & mental facility. That, causing the child to be removed from his home & guardian's care. I would like to know why this young man was placed in a mental facility just because of a scuffle at school? Many kids, from the past & present alike, have got into scuffles at school. What's abnormal about that? Nothing! I would also like to know why this child is being forced into a mental evaluation by this white judge? Washichu mental health facilities are not in the best interest of our many people. We have our own people for healing of the mind & spirit. WITHOUT the white man's poisons forced down someone's throat. I hope someone reading this gets on this case & starts getting some answers & gets this child's case put back to tribal law where it belongs. Tribal lawyers, lets get to work here & help this family out! As for a native school, there is one I believe in Arlee, MT, which is also on the SKC Reservation. It is an immersion school. They have excellent staff members, wonderful teachers & best of all, they ARE First Nations people who KNOW what is best for our children in teaching them about that culture, the language, etc. I wonder if they would be able to help this family with this young man? Steven Small Salmon, if you are reading this, how about it my friend & elder of the people?

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
And the news here just had a BIG article regarding an 8 year old boy being left home alone while the parnts went to the casino. My question is how is it possible that a 9 year old boy can be charged and convicted of a Felony? Now at 10 years old he is under the state control? I don't kow about the rest of you but this is an outrage. Native American families have been torn apart on the onset of the mandated death or reservation demand! At 6 years old the child was ripped from the family to attend 'Catholic' boarding schools' whereas most incurred sexual & physical abuse and many lost their lives. I don't see how the Gov't can raise I child better than a family?

Howard (Soaring Buzzard)'s picture
Howard (Soaring...
Submitted by Howard (Soaring... on
I feel that this could be taken many different ways and the biggest thought that stays in my mind is that he is a Native American which makes it a really bad story though I know that he may have done wrong to get on such probation, I don't feel that the bond fits his crime nor his age.

Frank's picture
Frank
Submitted by Frank on
This woman is comletely right, Indian kids get discriminated against in public school across Montana and in the Justice system Indians are treated terribly in Montana. Proven racial profiling, more arrests, convictions, stiffer fines and jail/prison time. Montana is very racist against Indians, do not let anyone tell you different.

Heather Laurin's picture
Heather Laurin
Submitted by Heather Laurin on
A $500,000 bond on a child? Give me a break! What in the world was this judge thinking? I say let him go back and live in Olympia where he was obviously thriving. I agree that Native children get treated differently in the public school system and it needs to stop.

Kenneth Knittle's picture
Kenneth Knittle
Submitted by Kenneth Knittle on
that amount of money for a bond is outrageous usually they put that on adults for serious crimes. That is why native americans must reclaim their lands and work in union

Janette A Baldwin 's picture
Janette A Baldwin
Submitted by Janette A Baldwin on
HE'S, JUST A LITTLE BOY " WHY ARE THEY PUNISHING KIDS AS IF THEY ARE ADULT HARDENED CRIMINALS? PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN AMOMG OLDER JUVENILES OR ADULTS INCREASES HS CHANCE OF BECOMING A VICTIM OF ABUSE IN ALL FORMS, MAKING THAT INDIVIDUAL MORE LIKELY TO REPEAT WAS WAS AFFLICTED UPON HIM!". STOP SENDING KIDS TO JAIL" GET THEM IN GROUP THEREPY OR FIND THEM FUN ACTIVITIES TO LEARN POSITIVE LIFESTYLES! .

INDIAN ON WHITE MANS REZ's picture
INDIAN ON WHITE...
Submitted by INDIAN ON WHITE... on
Well the judge is at it again wants to THROW GRANDMOTHER IN JAIL and PUT ISAIAH IN DETENTION on Thursday 6/6/2013 WHERE ARE ALL THE SO CALLED CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS WHEN NATIVE AMERICANS ARE PROSUCUTED AND PUT OUT TO DRY. CAN'T GET NO LOWER THAN COMMITING ATROCITY'S AGAINST A GRANDSON THAN GOING AFTER GRANDMOTHER FOR LOVING HER GRANDSON!!!!
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