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The Mountain West News Bureau is a collaboration between Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, KUNR in Nevada, Nevada Public Radio, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana and Wyoming Public Media, with support from affiliate stations across the region.

A new report offers suggestions on how the government can help improve Native children's lives

Hopi children dance in front of City Hall on Indigenous Peoples Day, Oct. 10, 2022, in Flagstaff, Ariz. The Commission on Native Children released a report addressing the concerns facing Native children, and one of the key themes of the report was emphasizing cultural engagement and language and centering children's Native identities as a way to build resilience and help heal generational trauma.
Felicia Fonseca
/
Associated Press
Hopi children dance in front of City Hall on Indigenous Peoples Day, Oct. 10, 2022, in Flagstaff, Ariz. The Commission on Native Children released a report addressing the concerns facing Native children, and one of the key themes of the report was emphasizing cultural engagement and language and centering children's Native identities as a way to build resilience and help heal generational trauma.

A new report about Native children was presented during a Senate committee this week.  The study was compiled by a commission made up of several tribal entities and makes key recommendations for how to help Native children and how government funds should be used.

The report, called “The Way Forward,” addresses several concerns about Native children, ranging from improving prenatal care to limiting school dropout rates and teen suicide.

It also presented several key themes in its research, including an emphasis on teaching young people Native languages and traditions and centering the Tribal community when it comes to making decisions about youth and families.

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Gloria O’Neil of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council of Alaska chaired the Commission on Native Children. She said while there are many challenges facing Native communities, it’s also important to celebrate successes. One of these successes is a summer program called a “super fab lab” where students learn new technology to help prepare them for the workforce.

“We bring job skills into that place. So when youth spend time with us after school, during summers, they have a standard of skills that they need to thrive in this world,” said O'Neil during the hearing.

Some of the recommendations in the report call for expanding after-school programming for Native children and expanding opportunities in higher education for Native students.

The report also showed that more than a third of Indigenous youth live in homes that are unable to afford basic needs.

Sarah Kastelic with the National Indian Child Welfare Association said the group wants Congress to increase funding for Tribal child welfare programs.

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“So it’s really critical that Tribes have access to this funding stream which strengthens families and ultimately allows tribes to support children safely at home with their families,” Kastelic said.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio (KNPR) in Las Vegas, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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Yvette Fernandez is the regional reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau. She joined Nevada Public Radio in September 2021.