Press Release: Senator Dorgan Testifies in Support of Native Children Commission


for Native American Youth Chairman Byron Dorgan

Testifies Before Senate Committee

Senator Dorgan will testify for the US Senate
Committee on Indian Affairs in support of a bill, introduced by Senators
Heitkamp and Murkowski, to establish a Commission on Native Children.

Washington, DC, April 2, 2014 —- US Senator Byron Dorgan (ret.), founder and
chairman of the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at
the Aspen Institute, will provide testimony about a bill introduced by US
Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a board member of
CNAY, to address the challenges experienced by Native American children. The
hearing is scheduled for 2:30 pm EST on Wednesday, April 2. More details on the
hearing are below.


“I am proud of Heidi
Heitkamp, and our board member Lisa Murkowski, for writing this
remarked former
Senator Dorgan.
“The Commission will help develop solutions to address the needs faced
by our youngest First Americans who have too often been left behind by our


At the legislative hearing, Dorgan will testify in
support of S. 1622, a bill that would create the Alyce
Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children
expressed his early support of the bill in an op-ed
last November. The role of the Commission would be to study and make
recommendations on how to improve programs and services for Native children,
addressing issues like high rates of poverty, lack of educational
opportunities, child abuse, domestic violence, as well as alcohol and substance


“As the former chairman of the Senate Committee
on Indian Affairs, Senator Dorgan has a unique understanding of the challenges
Native children face,” said Senator Heidi Heitkamp.  “Even
though he’s no longer in office, his passion and perseverance to face these
issues head on has never wavered.  I’m honored he is testifying at today’s
hearing about the importance of my bill to create a Commission on Native


CNAY has been working to increase awareness of Native
children and prioritize their needs at all levels of government, private and
public funding institutions, and within child advocacy organizations. In CNAY’s
outreach to over 3,000 Native youth across the country, young people and tribal
authorities have identified lack of data and coordination between stakeholders
as priority challenges. The proposed Commission would augment the national
efforts of many tribal organizations by conducting a comprehensive study of
youth-serving programs and services, and then developing a report with
recommendations for improvements. This report, developed with diverse expertise
and public private partners, would be sent to the President, Congress, and the
White House Council on Native American Affairs.


“We are proud that after three years of building
the Center for Native American Youth as a policy and resource platform for
Native American children, we are being called on to provide comments on this
important Commission,” said Erin Bailey, director of the Center for Native
American Youth. 


In his written testimony, Dorgan will highlight the
importance of the Commission on Native Children’s holistic approach and
involvement of many important stakeholders and advocates already making
important progress in addressing the needs of Native American children.
Partners like the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Casey Family Programs, the N7 Fund,
are devoting significant resources to work with tribes and improve the lives of
Native American children. The Commission would elevate this work within the
federal government as well.


I believe this legislation is an important step and will
help to save lives,” said Dorgan.


Hearing Details:

April 2, 2014
2:30 PM EST
628 Senate Dirksen Building

Center for Native American Youth is dedicated to improving the health, safety and
overall well-being of Native American youth through communication, policy
development and advocacy. Founded by former US Senator Byron Dorgan in February
2011, CNAY is a policy program within the Aspen Institute, headquartered in
Washington, DC. The CNAY works to strengthen and create new connections as well
as exchange resources and best practices that address the challenges facing
Native youth, with a special emphasis on suicide prevention. Visit CNAY’s
website for a comprehensive list of resources available to young Native Americans,
tribes and the general public. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization
based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring
values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.
Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on
Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an
international network of partners. For more information, visit



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s