Great Falls Tribune: Bill Signed to Study, Aid Native Children Approved

A bill to support Native children was signed into law, Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said Tuesday.

The bipartisan Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act, which was signed Friday, creates a panel that will do a comprehensive study on the programs, grants and support available for Native children, both at government agencies and in Native communities.

The goal is to develop a sustainable system that delivers wrap-around services to Native children, Daines said.

“This bill is an important step in improving the quality of life for Native children so that they can in turn strengthen the promise of a brighter future for tribal communities,” he said.

The panel will examine the unique challenges Native children face and make recommendations on how to improve the current system by building on the strengths of Native communities.

The commission is named in honor of Alyce Spotted Bear, former tribal chairwoman of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation in North Dakota — an advocate for Native children and a recognized leader in education — and Walter Soboleff, Alaska Native Elder and statesman from the Tlingit tribe in Alaska.

Daines and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., were among 26 co-sponsors of the bill. Its main sponsor was Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

The bill cleared both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives unanimously.