In 1855, representatives for the United States traveled to the Great Plains with orders to seek peace with Blackfoot Nation so the westward expansion of “civilized” white settlers could continue without interruption. After weeks of negotiations, the United States plan materialized. The terms of these promises were memorialized on October 17, 1855, in a treaty between the United States government and Blackfoot Nation.

One hundred and sixty-seven years later, representatives for the United States and the Blackfoot Nation convened in Rapid City, South Dakota to discuss the U.S. government’s breach of the treaty’s terms. Eight Native men, including three from Blackfoot Nation, filed lawsuits seeking redress from the government for the sexual abuse they suffered as children at the hands of their pediatrician at the U.S. Indian Health Service (IHS), a federal health service program. Dr. Stanley Patrick Weber sexually abused scores of young male patients during his 30 years working as a pediatrician at IHS. Despite having knowledge of Dr. Weber’s threat to children, the IHS hired, protected, and even promoted him.

This Article is intended to provide a practical lesson on how to approach sexual abuse claims against the U.S. government under a breach of treaty theory. Part I provides an in-depth narrative of Weber’s transgressions and the government’s role in facilitating his abuse. Part II provides an overview of procedural and substantive considerations in bringing a breach of treaty case. Part III provides practical guidance on how to research and frame a breach of treaty claim, including discussion of several types of treaty clauses that can serve as bases for such actions.

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