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November 25, 2009
NCAI President Jefferson Keel Speaks of Gratitude and Hope on Thanksgiving Day
NCAI President Jefferson Keel Speaks of Gratitude and Hope on Thanksgiving Day

WASHINGTON -- November 25, 2009 -- National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Jefferson Keel released the following statement on the eve of Thanksgiving Day:

"Indian Country was here at the beginning of our first national holiday, and we are still here four centuries later -- grateful that we stand proud of our tribal cultures and contribute their strength to the sustaining diversity of America.

Indian Country is grateful on many, many counts. A President and his Administration have heard our concerns and priorities, acknowledging the nation-to-nation relationship, at the first annual White House Tribal Nations Conference. The Embassy of Tribal Nations has opened its doors in the nation's capital. Congress is working in partnership with us to advance the priorities of Indian Country as seldom before. And a national museum on the Washington Mall bears witness to us for all who visit it.

We also have much to contribute to this great nation. Above all, our cultural heritage has positioned us to spearhead the historic task of restoring a human connection to the land, air, water, all living things and one another. We give thanks that the Creator has safeguarded our message of oneness in the web of life, for it is instrumental to restoring the global environment and good will among nations.

We must give thanks for other safeguards -- the warriors who guard our homeland, many of them far from home on this holiday of gratitude and reunion. Native men and women have steadfastly fought and died defending this country as the highest serving minority group in the U.S. armed forces. We give thanks for all who defend our country.

Also this year, we give thanks for the harvest that inspired the first Thanksgiving. Abundant as the harvest has been this year for many, for many others it is a lean year. We've known that unemployment is high and that household hunger is a growing concern.

As always, Americans give thanks this day for their individual and community harvest. But especially this year, NCAI calls on them to join the many tribes and individuals in Indian Country who are going the extra mile to help their needy neighbors, just as they did on that first Thanksgiving."

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