U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) recently introduced legislation to create a Congressional Charter for the National American Indian Veterans (NAIV). Headquartered in South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Reservation, the NAIV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advocating for tribal veterans. Originally started in 2004, today the NAIV serves the needs of Native veterans in all 50 states.
“We are grateful to our Native veterans for their service to our country,” said Rounds. “The NAIV helps make certain the unique needs of our Native veterans are being met. Our legislation will help strengthen the NAIV’s ability to provide one-of-a-kind assistance to our Native veterans as we seek ways to provide them with the care they’ve earned and deserve.”
“Native American veterans have served our state and our country with honor in the U.S. military,” said Thune. “I am glad to join Senator Rounds in introducing this resolution to give further voice to the sometimes unique needs and priorities of Native American veterans.”
“This bill is very important to American Indians, said Don Loudner, a native vet, enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and National Commander of the NAIV. “It doesn’t ask for any money. It only asks that the Congress recognize the sacrifices of generations of American Indians who have answered the nation’s call and fought in every war since the Revolution.”
A congressional charter is a law passed by Congress that recognizes the mission and authority of a group or organization. The NAIV serves the needs and interests of Native veterans in collaboration with its national leadership and 14 regional offices throughout the state. According to the VA, in 2020 there are more than 140,000 Native veterans in the United States. While Congressional Charters have been granted to Italian-American, Polish-American and Catholic-American veterans groups, as of today, no Native veterans’ organization has received a Congressional Charter.
Additional cosponsors include Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).