Congressman Don Young Introduces Legislation to Help Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Native American Children Overcome Cultural and Socioeconomic Challenges
Washington, January 21, 2021
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Don Young (R-AK-AL) introduced legislation to extend the deadline for a report on social, cultural, and economic challenges facing Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Native American youth, conducted by the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children. Congressman Ed Case (D-HI-01) and Congressman Kai Kahele (D-HI-02) serve as original cosponsors of this legislation.
The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, established by Congress in 2016, is charged with conducting a comprehensive study of the programs, grants, and support available for Native children (including Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children), both within government agencies, and on the ground in Native communities. The Commission will examine the unique challenges Native children face, and make relevant recommendations by building on the strengths and leadership of Native communities. These recommendations will help develop a sustainable system that delivers effective, culturally appropriate, and meaningful wraparound services to Indigenous children.
The 11‐member Commission includes experts in areas of juvenile justice, social work, education, and mental and physical health. The Commission will be advised by a Native Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from diverse tribal communities and a Native Children Subcommittee.
The Commission on Native Children presents a vital opportunity to identify new strategies for lasting solutions. It will provide much-needed expertise, guidance, and cultural wisdom on how to best address the needs of Native children. Congressman Young’s bill extends the reporting deadline from three years to five years, urgently needed following an 18-month delay in funding, which was compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. This extension will give the Commission the time necessary to compile a thorough and accurate report.
“As the father and grandfather of Alaska Native children, I know that our nation’s Indigenous children face unique barriers and adversity, which require innovative solutions to overcome. However, the fact is that we cannot even begin to find solutions until we accurately and thoroughly identify the cultural and socioeconomic challenges facing Native young people,” said Congressman Don Young. “I was very proud to support the creation of the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children in the 114th Congress. My legislation is simple: give the Commission the time necessary to conduct thorough research, participate in dialogues with Native communities, and produce a report that will serve as a guidepost for implementing policy solutions to empower young Native people across our country. Supporting the next generation of Indigenous youth has always been one of my highest priorities. When I moved to Fort Yukon, I taught fifth graders at the Bureau of Indian Affairs school
“I support this legislation because we must uplift America’s first peoples,” said Congressman Kai Kahele. “Our efforts must be rooted in our communities and centered on what will support our future generations. This legislation empowers native peoples, including Native Hawaiians, to learn, grow and find solutions together.”
“We are grateful for all of the support that the Commission has received from Congress, the Executive Branch and our communities. The Commission has continued its work despite the delay in funding and the pandemic, but we recognize the importance of visiting our communities, both rural and urban, to hear what is working and where the opportunity for improvements are. This extension will allow the commission to do just that, and provide us with the time to generate a thoughtful and comprehensive report with recommendations that can be taken up immediately at the local, tribal, state and federal level,” said Gloria O’Neill, President and CEO of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council.