Commission meets for Native American children

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 6:29 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - A commission met on Tuesday at United Tribes Technical College to discuss the obstacles facing Native children’s needs. The commissioners are a board of 11 members tasked by congress in 2016 to address challenges tribal communities face.

The goal of the meeting is to create a comprehensive report to better address the issues associated with Native American children and see what steps can be implemented to fix the problems.

“So whether it’s law enforcement or mental health care or health care in general, there’s really a need to increase accessibility and increase quality in services,” said Tami DeCoteau.

The issues being addressed at the conference are Native children in foster care, the need for more Native Judicial support, and the importance of tribal language and culture being implemented into the student curriculum.

“About 1,200 kids in foster care here in the state of North Dakota, 50 percent of those are Native children, so I think any issues regarding children in foster care systems are perhaps coming from unsafe environments, we need to be sure wherever they’re placed that it’s safe,” said Leander Mcdonald.

DeCoteau said one of the best ways to help the children is by reconnecting Native children with local tribal communities and practices to build relationships.

“Other programs, for example, might be language-based programs that are reinstating languages and teaching languages to native children, Connecting them with culture, ceremonies, and safe and stable homes and relationships,” said DeCoteau.

After the commission creates the report, it will directly be applied to tribal communities to create change.

“Our children are our future, and we need to recognize that in work we’re doing not only for our indigenous children but for all children,” said Mcdonald.

The commission hopes to issue solutions for better child welfare, physical, mental, and behavioral health, better educational opportunities, and the overall well-being and safety of children.

The Commission heavily relies on testimonies from the public to bring attention to the needs of tribal communities. You can go to its website.

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