Jul 282020
 

As a member of the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, I am sharing with you my letter to the Chairman and Ranking member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs concerning the Commission on Native Children.

It is important that every Congressman, as well as the President of the United States, fully understand the points made in this letter.

I encourage you to share the letter or your own version of it with your elected officials as well.

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July 27, 2020

The Honorable John Hoeven
Chairman
U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
838 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Tom Udall
Ranking Member
U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
838 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Sent via e-mail

Re: Letter concerning an extension of time for the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children

Dear Chairman Hoeven and Ranking Member Udall,

Due to difficulties securing funding through the Department of Interior, followed by the threat of the Covid virus, the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children has not been able to maintain the necessary timeline for its work. As a member of this Commission, I am writing to you concerning S. 3948

As you know, a comprehensive study determining the effectiveness of all programs, grants, and supports available for Native children is absolutely necessary. Redundant, ineffective and detrimental programs cannot continue. Limited resources coupled with the severe need of a large number of children means attention needs to be on programs that are genuinely beneficial. After decades of government interventions, the difference between what has helped and what has not should be evident.

Of particular importance is recognition that children who have Native American heritage are diverse individuals, each with their own needs, experiences, and world view. Not only do the 500 different tribal communities each have their own diverse histories, traditions and culture, but not all the children live within tribal communities. They live within disparate environments and situations. Some live within the reservation system, some live in cities or suburbs, and some live on rural farms. Some live with financial wealth, some do not. Some live in safe and loving homes, other do not. Some decisively embrace traditional religion. Others do not as a matter of choice. The children live within all walks of life, and most do not live within Indian Country. Some reject the reservation system and do not want tribal officials making decisions for them.

It is vital this be recognized and that children not be treated as if cut from all the same cloth. Programs fail when they do not correctly address the true heart of a child, but instead make assumptions about what the child really wants and needs.

This makes wide-ranging and far-reaching research all the more important. This Commission needs time to ensure that the recommendations submitted to Congress are well informed and bring genuine understanding and respect for the individual needs of children.

I am submitting a letter of support for S. 3948. Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Morris
Commissioner
Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children

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