American Indian child abuse task force hearings today

A Justice Department task force is examining the impact of violence and abuse on American Indian children. The first in a series of hearings is today in Bismarck.

Former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan co-chairs the task force. He says after decades of inaction, it's time for the federal government to work with tribes to find solutions to violence and child abuse.

"This is not a hopeless case. This is not some mysterious illness for which we don't know the cure," he said, adding that he hopes the task force will recommend solutions and public policy changes.

"There are some extraordinary kids doing things that we ought to celebrate and we ought to expand. It's time for use to find successes, celebrate successes as best practices and employ them around the rest of the Indian reservations as well."

There are a lot of stories about violence in Indian Country, but very little crime and child abuse data. But Assistant Attorney General with the office of justice programs Karol Mason says that's not a reason to wait.

"Additional data would be helpful but it's not critical to being able to come up with policy changes and solutions to addressing the problem."

The task force is expected to release a report late next year.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.