The following is the text of a May 9, 2024, press release from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), vice chairman of the Committee, led a roundtable discussion, titled “Roundtable on the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission’s Report on Native Children,” to hear directly from the Commission and child welfare experts on the Commission’s findings and recommendations to improve Native child welfare, including juvenile justice; education; physical, mental, and behavioral health.

“Our roundtable discussion helped the Committee learn more about the Commission’s study and the unique issues facing Native children,” said Chairman Schatz. “I thank all the panelists for joining the discussion and helping us all better understand the challenges Native children face and the work Congress can do to more effectively serve them.”

“I thank all the panelists who participated in our roundtable today, for helping better educate me and my colleagues on the work of the Commission, as well as the challenges and opportunities they have ahead. Chair of the Commission, Gloria O’Neill, Commissioner Don Gray, and Dr. Sarah Kastelic continue to be incredible partners to not only Alaska Native children, but all Indigenous youth,” said Vice Chairman Murkowski.

“The Alyce Spotted Bear & Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children has been a labor of love in many ways. Over ten years ago, with my former colleague Senator Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota, I introduced legislation to create this Commission which was ultimately signed into law,” said Murkowski. “The Commission’s report represents five years of extraordinary work, offering a treasure trove of recommendations that Congress and agencies should now act on. I look forward to doing so.”

The following panelists participated in the roundtable:

Gloria O’Neill, Chair of the Commission, President/CEO, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc. (Anchorage, AK)

Tami Decoteau, PhD, Vice Chair of the Commission, DeCoteau, Trauma-Informed Care & Practice, PLLC (Bismarck, ND)

Anita Fineday, Commissioner, Implementation Director, Equity and Engagement, Minnesota Department of Children, Youth and Families (Brainerd, MN)

Leander “Russ” McDonald, PhD, Commissioner, President, United Tribes Technical College (Bismarck, ND) Don Gray, Commissioner, Board Member, Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation (Anchorage, AK)

Delia Ulima, Advisory Committee Member, Statewide Initiative Manager, HI H.O.P.E.S. Initiative, EPIC ‘Ohana Inc. (Honolulu, HI)

Gil Vigil, President of the Board, National Indian Child Welfare Association (Portland, OR)

Sarah Kastelic, PhD, Executive Director, National Indian Child Welfare Association (Portland, OR)

Photos of the hearing are available here. The full video of the roundtable is available available here. Written comments for the record may be submitted to until May 22.

May 8, 2024 - Roundtable discussion entitled “The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission’s Report on Native Children.”

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice
Roundtable discussion entitled “The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission’s Report on Native Children.” (May 8, 2024)