February 28, 2024

Vice Chairman Murkowski Welcomes Report and Recommendations from the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children

Senator Murkowski Commends the Commissioners, Tribal Leaders, Witnesses, Experts, and Staff for their Work

Washington, DC – Last week, the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children (Commission) transmitted its official and final report and recommendations to the President and Congress as directed by bipartisan legislation Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) ushered into law (Public Law 114-244, as amended by Public Law 117-41) in 2016. Congress created and directed the Commission to conduct an intensive study of federal, tribal, state and local programs and grants available to American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children and to make recommendations for how to promote improved outcomes for Native youth.

Senator Murkowski, Vice Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, issued a statement on the release of the Commission’s report and recommendations.

“I commend the Commission, the many witnesses, tribal leaders, experts, scholars, youth, and elders for examining the unique challenges confronting Native children while highlighting and lifting up the strengths of Native communities,” said Vice Chairman Murkowski. “The Commission conducted scores of hearings and site visits to understand the geographic and cultural diversity across Native communities as they developed recommendations. In particular, I want to thank Commission Chair Gloria O’Neill (Cook Inlet Tribal Council) and Vice-Chair Dr. Tami DeCoteau (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation) for their extraordinary work. I look forward to reviewing the Commission’s report and continuing our work toward a future in which all Native children and youth thrive.”

Gloria O’Neill, Commission Chair, also provided the following statement.

“This transformative report demonstrates the power of listening to our communities, and in particular to our youth,” said Commission Chair O’Neill. “It’s inspiring to see how strong and resilient Native youth are, especially when they are connected to who they are and to their communities. I’m proud of the Commission’s groundbreaking work to identify the ways that our various education, health, child welfare and justice systems can work better together. Our recommendations will lay a foundation to chart a bold new path toward wellbeing for Native children and youth.”

The Commission is named in honor of two advocates for Native children and youth, Alyce Spotted Bear (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation) and Walter Soboleff (Tlingit). Alyce Spotted Bear was a chairwoman of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, an education leader and a cultural historian. Reverend Dr. Walter Soboleff was a spiritual leader for Alaska Native people, a Tlingit educator, and the first Alaska Native Chairman of the Alaska State Board of Education.

Click here for The Way Forward: Report of the Alyce Spotted Bear & Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children.