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ND to host task force on reservation violence

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's capital will host the first public hearing of a national task force to examine the impact of exposure to violence on American Indian and Alaska Native children.

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The task force is anchored by a federal working group that includes U.S. attorneys and officials from federal Interior and Justice departments, and an advisory committee of experts on American Indian studies, child health and trauma and child welfare and law.

They will examine the scope and impact of violence facing American Indian and Alaska Native children and make policy recommendations to Attorney General Eric Holder, he announced Wednesday at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, D.C.

"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," Holder said.

The advisory committee that will be co-chaired by former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota will hold four public hearings beginning in Bismarck, N.D., on Dec. 9. Associate Attorney General Tony West will attend that hearing.

The other hearings will be in Phoenix, Ariz.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Anchorage, Alaska, early next year.