October 1, 2004 - Issue: Vol. 150, No. 122 — Daily Edition108th Congress (2003 - 2004) - 2nd Session
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN
(Senate - October 01, 2004)
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[Pages S10260-S10261] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. President, I speak about the Smithsonian's new Museum of the American Indian. In June 1989, when I was still a Member of the House of Representatives, I cosponsored legislation to establish the National Museum of the American Indian within the Smithsonian Institution. The 15-year odyssey for this museum has presented us with more than just items behind glass. This museum tells the story of North and South Americas' native peoples. It shows their journey through time and gives optimism for the future. First, I thank all those who have been involved since this process began so many years ago, in particular, Senators Inouye and Campbell, the original sponsors of this bill. The efforts of [[Page S10261]] thousands of people, both Native and non-native, are reflected in the magnificent structure commemorating the lives of the first Americans. I also thank the thousands of participants who have come from all over the Western Hemisphere to be a part of this historic museum opening, especially those Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota peoples who have made the journey from the Great Plains and particularly South Dakota. Those that have made the trip have shared with us the richness and beauty of their cultures. I recently had the opportunity to tour the museum, and I am so proud to see the Native people of South Dakota represented in the museum. I am particularly contented to see that the exhibits are displayed in a manner where the tribes are able to see their story from their own point of view. This museum will forever grace the national mall in our Nation's Capitol from the serenity gardens created to surround the museum to the heart of the building's Potomac gathering place. It will take its visitors through time by allowing native people to tell their own story. I also take this opportunity to speak of the future. With the ever changing roles of the United States government and Indian Tribes, it is imperative we constantly examine paths that strengthen that relationship. In regards to this relationship, I often hear of the tribal sovereignty and the obligations of the United States Government and its treaty and trust responsibilities. With health care in Indian Country funded at 50 percent its necessary levels and schools that are decades past their usefulness, I think that we need to take a serious look at these responsibilities. We need to do more to combat the deplorable conditions that many of our native peoples are subjected, and to develop a plan to alleviate these hardships. Forever, this museum will grace our national mall. With this new beginning and its reflections of the past, we must now look to the future, the future of Indian country. ____________________