FAIRBANKS — A bill to improve the lives of Native American children passed Congress unanimously last week, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), one of the bill’s  sponsors.

The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act creates a commission to examine social issues affecting Native children, including poverty, child abuse, domestic violence, crime and substance abuse.

The panel, named after Native leaders from Alaska and North Dakota, will make recommendations for improvement.

“I can cite many examples of young Native people who are living healthy lives and doing great things for their people. Yet far too have found themselves in a world of despair,” Murkowski said in a prepared statement. “There is an urgent need for a broad range of stakeholders to come to the table and formulate plans to give every young Native person a fighting chance at a productive life.”