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Al Jazeera: Task force hears of struggles facing Native youth





The Advisory Committee of the Attorney General's Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence held its second meeting this week:
Daniel Cauffman is trying to get back to his roots, and it starts with his name.

Abused as a child by his stepmother, estranged from his father and still grieving the loss of his mother five years ago, 21-year-old Cauffman was one of the youngest experts to testify before a U.S. Department of Justice task force convened to study the impact of exposure to violence on American Indian and Alaska Native children.

The daylong hearing, held Tuesday at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Scottsdale, attracted more than 160 witnesses, tribal leaders, policymakers and community members to discuss the response of juvenile systems to native children exposed to violence.

It was the second of four hearings; task force members will also meet in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Anchorage, Alaska, later this year before making a recommendation to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

During a break in Tuesday’s hearing, Cauffman stepped out into the Arizona sun and ran a hand through a mop of thick brown hair.

“I’m about to get my tribal name, and everyone keeps saying I should grow out my hair,” he said. “I’m just now learning about my history and about Indian Country.”

A renewed interest in his home tribe and a goal to become a social worker are signs of hope, experts say, from a generation facing a number of deep-seated issues.

Get the Story:
DOJ hearing: We are failing the children of Indian Country (Al Jazeera 2/12)

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