The Department of Justice hosted a ceremony for the American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month in the DOJ’s Great Hall on Tuesday.
U.S Attorney General Eric Holder paid tribute to America’s indigenous peoples, pointing out their contribution to the country’s history and culture.
“On far away battlefields and in the halls of Congress, generations of American Indians and Alaska Natives have distinguished themselves by their service to their country,” he said. “We renew our nation’s enduring promise : to respect the sovereignty and self-determination of tribal governments, and to build healthy, sustainable tribal communities.”
In July, President Barack Obama signed the Tribal Law and Order Act into law. This new piece of legislation makes permanent the Office of Tribal Justice, 15 years after its creation - an initiative greeted by community leaders. Reducing violence against women, a plague widely affecting tribal communities, is one of the central goals of the law .
Holder also mentioned that $450 million would be directed towards American Indian communities in the fiscal year 2011 budget, in an effort to strengthen the public safety and the tribal law enforcement system.
Despite continuous efforts to improve their lives, Native Americans are one of the most impoverished groups in the United States. According to the 2000 Census, the 2.4 million members community has a poverty rate over to 25 percent.