WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement on the occasion of the grand opening of the National Museum of the American Indian today. The Museum, the newest member of the Smithsonian family, is located on the National Mall and showcases the history, culture, and traditions of American Indian tribes in the United States:
“With the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian today, the sun shines a bit brighter on the National Mall. This long overdue addition to the Smithsonian is both an architectural and cultural feat achieved through the hard work, imagination and perseverance of Native communities across the country. With its combination of traditional materials and state-of-the-art technological exhibits the museum is a true testament to Native communities’ commitment to moving forward while honoring the traditions of the past.
“Potomac is Algonkin for ‘where something is brought.’ Therefore, it is fitting that today on the banks of the Potomac River the Native community brings our great nation the gift that is the National Museum of the American Indian. By meeting adversity with strength and a renewed commitment to the health, welfare and prosperity of their people and traditions, the Native community is an inspiration to all Americans.
“While we celebrate the opening of the museum we must also take the time to recommit ourselves, our nation and our resources to helping Native communities across the country. The challenges of providing adequate housing, health care and education in Indian Country must be met with our full dedication and vigor. We must recommit ourselves to providing full ballot access to all of Indian Country in this fall’s election and support the efforts of the legal teams of the Native Vote 2004: Election Protection.
“In addition to dedicating ourselves to addressing the needs of the Native community, my Democratic colleagues and I are steadfastly committed to protecting tribal sovereignty and protecting the trust rights of all in Indian Country. The government-to-government relationship between the Federal government and Indian tribes must be protected as we legislate and direct funds in Congress. We must honor our nation’s responsibility to protect the land and resources of Native Americans fully and to the benefit of all in Indian Country.
“It is a brighter day in our nation and in all of Indian Country on this opening day of the National Museum of the American Indian.”