Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community logo

Updated 4:18 p.m. Tuesday.

Two parents are suing Scott County and the Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper claiming discrimination in custody cases involving the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

The lawsuit alleges the SMSC was given preference over federal law in two separate custody cases involving a Native American parent and a non-Native American parent, according to a news release.

The parents and representing attorney Erick Kaardal gave a press conference Tuesday at 10 a.m.

"Time and time again, we see the member parents being preferred over the non-member parents in tribal courts," Kaardal said during the conference. "The tribal courts prefer Indian relatives to non-Indian relatives. That's a discrimination."

The suit also claims the parents are worried about the tribal community environment, including the Mystic Lake Hotel Casino.

"I believe every single fit parent should enjoy opportunities to raise their children," one of the parents, James Nguyen, said during the conference. "I'm not a lawyer, I'm just a dad. We wish to create equal protection for all children under the law."

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Business Council prepared a statement regarding the claims in the lawsuit.

"The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, a federally recognized tribe, takes seriously our duty to protect the health, welfare and safety of our tribal member children," according to the statement. "We believe in the fairness of our tribal court system, which has been in place for nearly 30 years. The community views these matters as personal and private and will not discuss them publicly."

The plaintiffs are part of a group called "Americans for Tribal Court Equality," a non-profit that is "seeking to gather case studies for future publication of tribal court discriminatory practices," according to the website.

The logo features the scales of justice superimposed over the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community colors.

The parents are represented by the Thomas More Society, which provides legal services to cases regarding "life, family and religious liberty," according to their website.

In 2014, Kaardal represented SMSC members who said their descendants were promised 12 square miles of southern Minnesota land in 1863 and were never given the land, according to a Minneapolis Star Tribune story.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision to dismiss the lawsuit in 2016.

Maggie Stanwood was born and raised in small-town Iowa before moving to Wyoming in middle school. After her brief stint in the Wild West, she attended the University of Missouri - Columbia, where she graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelors in Journalism.