NATIONAL COMMISSION ON NATIVE CHILDREN HOLDS FIRST OFFICIAL MEETING

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Dec 292019
 
Commission on Native Children

The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children will conduct a comprehensive study of supports for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 27, 2019
CONTACT: Carlyle Begay, asbwsnc@gmail.com

[Washington, D.C., November 2019] – The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, established by Congress, held its first official meeting from October 30-November 1, 2019. The bipartisan Commission is the vision of former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who provided opening remarks along with Tara Sweeney, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Comprised of 11 individuals specializing in juvenile justice, social service programs, Indian education, and mental and physical health, the Commission will conduct a comprehensive study of the programs, grants, and supports available for Native children at government agencies and in Native communities. They will then have three years to issue a report containing recommendations to address the challenges currently facing Native children, with the goal of developing a sustainable system that delivers wraparound services to Native children.

Native children (including American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children) suffer from Commission on Native Children, DC, DOIhealth and well-being challenges at a much higher rate than their non-Native peers, often experiencing trauma that impacts their ability to learn, thrive, and become resilient adults. Resources and supports for Native children are currently inappropriate, insufficient, or limited by bureaucracy so that they are ineffective. The Commission has a unique and historic opportunity to fundamentally change the trajectory of Native children for the better. In her opening remarks, Senator Murkowski said to the Commissioners, “The Commission can address education issues and childhood trauma in a more holistic way…Sometimes it doesn’t take a lot of money to give a child support, love, and care.” Former Senator Heitkamp added, “I want the Commission to give us hope that things can change and that we can do better. You are the ‘Hope Commission’…Collect and rely on data and research, and lead with your heart; it will take you where you need to go.”

The Commissioners are excited to take on this charge. Gloria O’Neill, Chair of the Commission and President/CEO of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council in Anchorage, Alaska, stated, “We are looking forward to moving the needle on positive outcomes for Native children. We have a great opportunity as there is great alignment in Congress and our partners in the federal government to get things done.”

Over the next couple of years, the Commission will be holding hearings in and reviewing documentation from tribal communities throughout the country to hear from Native children, their families, tribal leaders, and community members. The Commission will also hear from respected researchers and experts as they consider their recommendations. The first public hearing of the Commission will be held in Arizona in March 2020.

The Commissioners of the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children are:

Gloria O’Neill (Chair)
President/CEO, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc.
Alaska

Tami DeCoteau, Ph.D. (Co-Chair)
DeCoteau Trauma-Informed Care & Practice, PLLC
North Dakota

Carlyle Begay
Former State Senator
Arizona

Dolores Subia BigFoot, Ph.D.
Director, Indian Country Child Trauma Center
Oklahoma

Jesse Delmar
Director, Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety
Arizona

Anita Fineday
Managing Director, Indian Child Welfare Program, Casey Family Programs
Minnesota

Don Atqaqsaq Gray
Board Member, Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation
Alaska

Leander R. McDonald, Ph. D.
President, United Tribes Technical College
North Dakota

Elizabeth (Lisa) Morris
Administrator, Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare
North Dakota

Melody Staebner
Fargo/West Fargo Indian Education Coordinator
North Dakota
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Sep 242013
 

TAHLEQUAH, Okla, September 23, 2013 –Veronica's Rights

The adoption of 4-yr-old Veronica Rose by Matt and Melanie Capobianco has been upheld in Oklahoma Supreme Court. The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare is delighted that visitations in the last month between the Capobiancos and Veronica went very well. Veronica remembered, was glad to see, and felt comfortable with the Capobiancos. The transfer of custody, reported by Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree to have been a “peaceful transfer,” was completed by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office by 7:30 pm with the family leaving for South Carolina soon after.

The claim that Veronica was an ‘Indian Child’ as a result of 3/128 Cherokee Heritage was alienating to many Americans. Even more so was the claim that removing Veronica from Indian Country constituted genocide akin to the Trail of Tears. This was particularly offensive to parents of tribal heritage who have personally chosen to remove their children from Indian Country.

This case has opened eyes to the horror the Indian Child Welfare Act has been inflicting on children across the United States.

Veronica’s situation resolved, CAICW will be spending time in Washington DC this fall, educating legislators about the harm caused by ICWA to multi-racial families across the nation, many more of whom have contacted CAICW after watching the long drawn out ordeal of the Capobianco family.

While one feels for a father losing custody his daughter, the 2013 rulings of U.S. Supreme Court and South Carolina courts overruled initial orders and found that the Capobiancos had stepped in to take care of Veronica in good faith after Mr. Brown advised birth mother, Chrissi Maldonado, that he was not willing to pay child support and chose instead to avoid any interaction with his child, thus losing his parental rights.