Native American Heritage Month started yesterday and Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District and the Ranking Member on the Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee released the following statement today in honor of the month long celebration.
“November marks an opportunity to reflect and recognize the many contributions of Native Americans across the country. As home to 19 Pueblos, the Navajo Nation, and the Jicarilla Apache, New Mexico’s history and culture is all the richer for the influence that tribal communities have had in the Land of Enchantment. We see every day the accomplishments and importance of Indian country.
“Native Americans have a profound history that is kept alive through a deep-rooted culture and traditions that continue to this day. They have greatly contributed to the success of our nation in all aspects as teachers, small business owners, and members of our armed forces. We remember and honor all those who sacrificed to protect our nation, including the Navajo Code Talkers who contributed to victory in World War II. Sadly, we mourn the loss of code talker George Smith, who passed away earlier this week.
“As we continue our work to grow our economy and move our nation beyond the deepest recession in a generation, it is critical that Native American communities are a part of this effort. We must build upon our strong government-to-government relations, respecting the sovereignty of tribal communities while working together to create a brighter future through increased economic opportunities. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Care Act, we have taken important steps to invest in infrastructure in Indian country and invest in healthier communities.
“While these efforts represent important steps forward, we must continue to work together to strengthen tribal communities across the country and the special partnership we share.”