National American Indian Organizations React to Propose Commission on Native Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Support for the new proposed Commission on Native Children was swift last week after US Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, introduced legislation to create such a commission.

Both Senator Heitkamp and Senator Murkowski sit on the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in the current Congress.

The bipartisan legislation, would create a national Commission on Native American Children to conduct an intensive study into issues facing Native children – such as high rates of poverty, staggering unemployment, child abuse, domestic violence, crime, substance abuse, and few economic opportunities – and make recommendations on how to make sure Native children are better taken care of and given the opportunities to thrive.

The following statements show the support from some American Indian organizations in Indian country:

“For far too long, our country has overlooked the needs of Indian children. NCAI firmly believes that the Commission on Native Children is an important step in bringing the issues of our most precious resources — Native children — to the forefront. Indian Country’s success depends on our ability to support our youngest citizens and we applaud Senators Heitkamp and Murkowski for making Native youth a priority. This Commission will further the national conversation and take action on issues that will help Indian Country build a better future for Native children across the nation.”

National Congress of American Indians

“The nation’s 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), which collectively are the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), are community-based institutions of higher education. They not only provide child care centers for their students that are parents and in some instances run the Head Start program on their reservations, TCUs also train the Head Start teachers and staff and are graduating nurses and K-12 school teachers to serve in their local communities. The TCUs are integral elements in advancing wellness and a continuum of education for American Indians and Alaska Natives. AIHEC is pleased to support the introduction of this legislation and thanks Senator Heitkamp for initiating a Commission to explore new and better ways to ensure a healthy and dynamic future for Native children.”

American Indian Higher Education Consortium

 “NIEA endorses Senator Heitkamp’s introduction of her first bill, which would begin to reverse the disparaging issues affecting children from our American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities. We appreciate the bill because it provides language to create a Commission focused on analyzing juvenile justice, health, educational wrap-around programs and falls in line with NIEA’s priorities for Native children. NIEA understands that our children must have the best support structures from birth through college, so that they may become the future leaders our communities need and deserve. We are happy to have a champion like Senator Heitkamp in Congress working for our Native children to provide those support structures.”

National Indian Education Association

“The Tribal Leaders of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association (GPTCA) would like to express our deepest appreciation for Senator Heitkamp’s legislation. Thank you for listening to us to improve the situations for our children. We highly support the legislation. For too many years the Children of our Tribes have been impacted by many challenges that stymie progress. Although, there are many success stories, we believe a comprehensive study is greatly needed and the proposed creation of the Commission in the Alyce Spotted Bear legislation will concentrate on seeking recommendations for improvement. Tribal leaders of the GPTCA look forward to working with you to implement the Alyce Spotted Bear Commission on Native Children legislation and to seek improvements for our Children.”

Tex “Red Tipped Arrow” Hall, Chairman,
Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski

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