The Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka, Alaska, is the oldest in the state and one of the oldest in the nation. Photo: Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
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Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approves two bills at meeting

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved two pro-tribal bills at a business meeting on Tuesday.

S.772, the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act, ensures that tribes can receive federal funds to develop child abduction alert systems. Currently, AMBER Alert grants are limited to states.

The bill also makes permanent a pilot program that provides tribes with AMBER Alert training. According to a resolution being considered by the National Congress of American Indians, only 10 tribes out of more than 560 were able to participate.

“According to data produced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there are 7,724 Native American children listed as missing in the United States,” Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the sponsor of S.772, and former chairman of the committee, said in a press release.

"Every second a child is missing is potentially life threatening and we need to make sure information gets out to law enforcement and the general public quickly," Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), a co-sponsor and vice chairman of the committee, added in a press release.

The second bill approved on Wednesday was S.825, the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act. The bill authorizes the transfer of property owned by the Indian Health Service to the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium.

The Native organization plans to use the property in Sitka, Alaska, to build a new health facility to replace one that is nearly 70 years old. Similar legislation has been passed for other tribal groups in the state.

Both bills can now be considered by the U.S. Senate.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice:
Business Meeting to consider S. 772 & S. 825 (June 13, 2017)

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Senate panel takes up bill to bring AMBER Alert funding to tribes (April 28, 2017)
Bill brings funding for AMBER Alert systems to Indian Country (April 18, 2017)