Heidi Heitkamp/Lisa Murkowski: Standing up for Indian children

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) and youth from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Photo from Twitter

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) explain the need for S.1622, the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act, which was approved by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on May 21:
As senators from North Dakota and Alaska, these aren’t just statistics to us. We have been touched by the proud histories and rich cultures, traditions, and languages of Native Americans. Over the years, we have joined them for countless tribal meetings, powwows, potlatches, and potlucks. We embrace the young children who run up to us at Head Start programs and elementary schools. And we are saddened when we see these communities in our states ravaged by poverty and neglect. We want to do something about it.

First, we need to learn more about the problems. Currently, we have only national statistics about Native children, but, shockingly, we don’t have data for each state or each tribe. As a result, programs offering support are often redundant and federal resources do not reach the communities in which they are needed most.

Second, we need simpler grant programs. Tribal governments often have to jump through excessive hoops just to apply for federal grants, making it difficult for tribes to access programs that could help these children.

Third, we need fresh ideas.

It’s for all of these reasons that we introduced our bill, the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children—named for two late elders in Native American communities in North Dakota and Alaska—which would put us on track to address these problems and to begin making life better for Native children.

Get the Story:
Heidi Heitkamp and Lisa Murkowski: Standing Up for Every Child (Indian Country Today 6/17)

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Audio from Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on five bills (4/2)
Byron Dorgan: Support commission to study Native youth issues (11/18)
DOJ task force to make recommendations on Native child safety (11/15)
DOJ schedules hearings on violence against Native children (11/14)
Bill creates national commission to study Native youth issues (10/31)

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