ASU professor appointed to new task force by U.S. Attorney General

Eddie F. Brown

ASU's Eddie F. Brown, executive director of the American Indian Policy Institute and professor of American Indian Studies, has been appointed by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as a member of a new task force to examine the impact of exposure to violence on American Indian and Alaska Native children.

Holder announced the first public hearing of the new task force at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, joining President Obama and other officials at the Department of the Interior to share the announcement with leaders from 566 federally recognized tribes.

“We must not accept the shameful reality that American Indians and Alaska Natives are disproportionately likely to be exposed to crime and violence – and that many who suffer exposure are children,” Holder said. “By bringing together federal officials, tribal leaders and local partners to focus on the unique challenges that Indian children face, this task force will enhance public safety. And these leaders will strengthen our communities by ensuring that every child can have the opportunity to learn, to grow and to thrive – free from violence and fear.”

Brown is a former director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, where he worked with states and counties to implement the Indian Child Welfare Act. He also served as Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs in the United States Department of Interior.

“I am honored and pleased to be a part of this team of tribes, Indian professionals and the U.S. Department of Justice for the examination and recommendations of meaningful, effective practices to alleviate the pervasive impact that exposure to violence has on our children, families and ultimately our Indian communities,” he said.

Much of Brown’s focus throughout his career has been on improving conditions for Native American families and children through programs that focus on employment, elderly populations, self-determination and parenting classes for American Indians who grew up in an age when Native American children were sent away to school.

“Many American Indians were raised in a boarding school environment. They were not in normal families. Today, parents are struggling with how to traditionally and wisely raise their children,” he said.

The task force is made up of both a federal working group that includes U.S. Attorneys and officials from the Departments of the Interior and Justice and an advisory committee of experts appointed to examine the scope and impact of violence facing American Indian and Alaska Native children, and make policy recommendations to Attorney General Holder on ways to address it. Brown is a member of the advisory committee.

The advisory committee will be co-chaired by former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan and Iroquois composer and singer Joanne Shenandoah. They will be aided by tribal members and national experts on American Indian studies, child health and trauma, and child welfare and law. 

Four public hearings across the country will be convened by the advisory committee beginning in Bismarck, N.D., Dec. 9, focusing on violence in children’s homes, schools and communities in Indian country. The other hearings will be held in Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Anchorage early in 2014.