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IHS Reassigns Psychologist Who Expressed Concern for Child Saftey on the Spirit Lake Reservation to State, Federal Officials

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Dr. Michael Tilus, a psychologist who served as behavioral health director of the Indian Health Service (IHS) clinic on the Spirit Lake reservation, has been reprimanded and reassigned. He did not follow the "proper channels" when he criticized the tribe in a letter sent to numerous state and federal officials in April expressing "grave concern" about the tribe's failed efforts to protect children from abuse and neglect, reported the Associated Press.

Tilus received a letter from the IHS reprimanding him for bypassing procedure, an aide for Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, told the AP.

“It talks about going outside the direct chain of command,” Bernstein said, describing the reprimand.

Tilus reportedly told Hoeven’s office that he was reassigned to the agency’s regional headquarters in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

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Tilus’ letter depicted public health hazards endangering children on the reservation, and he also condemned social services officials for the tribe for committing numerous legal and regulatory violations.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, acknowledged Tilus’ letter of reprimand and reassignment, but also indicated he would pay more attention to the situation on the Spirit Lake reservation.

“But through all this, we cannot lose sight of the most important issue here—the well-being of the children at Spirit Lake and reservations throughout Indian Country,” Conrad said. “Preventable tragedies have occurred that must never be permitted to happen again.”