WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 325, a bill to amend the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act to extend the deadline for a report by the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, and for other purposes. The bill, introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and co-sponsored by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Jon Tester (D-MT), now heads to the President to be signed into law. A House companion bill was introduced by Representative Don Young (R-AK), and co-sponsored by Representatives Ed Case (D-HI) and Kaiali’i Kahele (D-HI).
“I thank the House of Representatives for quickly passing my bill to extend the reporting deadline for the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission which helps identify solutions to address the many obstacles Native children face. The coronavirus pandemic interrupted the important work of the Commission and led to the need for additional time to complete their charge. Providing an extension will give the Commission the opportunity to ensure proper Tribal engagement and allow the Commission adequate time to hold hearings and receive testimony from the public to inform their report and recommendations. I look forward to the thorough recommendations that the Commission will develop so that Congress and the Administration can pursue and implement policies that best support Native youth and their communities,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski.
“This is a very good day for Indigenous people across the country. As the father and grandfather of Alaska Natives, 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 youth,” 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. Their data collection efforts are central to painting a clear picture of what our young Native people face. The bill we passed today takes action to 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. I am grateful for the support of my colleagues on this bill, particularly Senator Lisa Murkowski for leading it in the Senate, and to Congressman Ed Case and Congressman Kai Kahele for their support in the House. I urge President Biden to swiftly sign this bill into law so that we may better address the needs of young Native children across the country.”
In 2016, the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act (S. 246), was signed into law. The bipartisan bill was co-sponsored by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and 25 of their Senate colleagues. This bill established the Commission and charged them to conduct a comprehensive study over Federal, Tribal, state and local programs that serve Native children. Following their study, the Commission must use the results and develop recommendations in a report that will be provided to Congress and the Administration. The Commission was named in memory of the late Dr. Walter Soboleff, a treasured Alaska Native elder and culture bearer and a champion for Native youth.