WASHINGTON – Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Joe Crittenden delivered testimony Tuesday before the U.S. House Resources Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs.
Deputy Chief Crittenden, a U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran, was part of a tribal leaders’ panel invited to give comments on the proposed bill for an American Indian veterans’ memorial in Washington, D.C.
“The Native American Veterans’ Memorial is important because Native Americans serve at a higher rate than any other racial group in this country, and we serve in the Navy more than any other branch,” said Crittenden. “Throughout centuries, many fine young native men and women have served. To all of them, through the generations, we owe a debt of gratitude. They are true American heroes and deserve to be included when Americans come to the U.S. capital to remember their veterans. Yet, of all the monuments that are in Washington, D.C., none of them stand to recognize native veterans.”
Crittenden pointed out the Cherokee Nation has invested $1.6 million in building its own veterans center, along with recognizing those who have served during the monthly tribal council meetings.
U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., a Cherokee Nation citizen, introduced the legislation H.R. 2319, the Native American Veterans’ Memorial Amendments Act. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.
“This legislation would allow the Museum of American Indian to build a memorial on the museum’s grounds,” said Crittenden. “It would also open up fundraising ability for the museum and not limit it only to the National Congress of American Indians. These will open doors for others to learn about Native people, to financially support the memorial, and to make it more likely to be built. I am filled with hope at this opportunity to keep our history alive and pay respect to the departed.”