The Pryor Times

Opinion

November 14, 2013

Native America

PRYOR, OK — Oklahoma is known for its Native American heritage—a heritage rooted deep in tradition. If you look around our great state, you will see countless representations of our diverse history.

As a member of the Cherokee tribe, the value of hard work and the importance of family were instilled in me at a young age. The Cherokee Nation are a proud people. We take pride in being Cherokee, but also take pride in being American.

My wife Christie and I raise our family on the land that has been in my family for generations. We believe our children should grow up knowing about the generations that preceded them and what an impact their heritage can have on their future.

In Congress, I am only one of two Native American members. This has provided a unique opportunity to be the voice not only for the Cherokee Nation, but also for the Native American community as a whole. I currently serve on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian and Alaskan Native Affairs. It is here that I can be the voice for our sovereign nations and help educate future generations about the role Native Americans play in our nation.

I often reference Will Rogers who was not only an Oklahoman, but also Cherokee.  In his famous line, “I never met a man I didn’t like,” Will demonstrates the importance Native Americans place on community, friendship and family. His memory lives on even in the halls of Congress as his statue remains fixed facing the House floor.  We take pride in “Oklahoma’s Favorite Son” as he represents our state and our heritage.

In addition to being Cherokee, I’m also the grandson of a World War II veteran. The Cherokee Nation, like many tribes, has already done much to honor and serve its veteran population.

In Washington, D.C. we are working on H.R. 2319, the Native American Memorial Amendments Act, in order to provide a proper memorial for those Native American Veterans who proudly served our country. I sponsored and introduced this legislation because I recognize the importance of such a memorial.

H.R. 2319 amends the Native American Veterans’ Memorial Establishment Act of 1994 to allow the National Museum of the American Indian to construct a memorial to Native American veterans on the museum grounds. This memorial will only serve as a small gesture in response to the selfless sacrifice brave Native Americans gave to their country.

November is Native American Month, thanks to the countless individuals who worked for decades to preserve the memory and culture of the American Indian. Learn more about this special celebration by visiting nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov.

Let’s take pride in our heritage and continue moving our nations forward as Americans.

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