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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                             (Oslo, Norway)
For Immediate Release                                   November 1, 1999




Ours is a nation inextricably linked to the histories of the many peoples who first inhabited this great land. Everywhere around us are reminders of the legacy of America's first inhabitants. Their history speaks to us through the names of our cities, lakes, and rivers; the food on our tables; the magnificent ruins of ancient communities; and, most important, the lives of the people who retain the cultural, spiritual, linguistic, and kinship bonds that have existed for millennia.

As we reflect on the heritage of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, we also reaffirm our commitment to fostering a prosperous future for native youth and children. At the foundation of these efforts is our work to provide a quality education to all Native American children. In particular, we have sought significantly increased funding to support Bureau of Indian Affairs school construction and 1,000 new teachers for American Indian youth. My 1998 Executive order on American Indian and Alaska Native Education sets goals to improve high school completion rates and improve performance in reading and mathematics. And we are working to get computers into every classroom and to expand the use of educational technology.

We are also seeking ways to empower Native American communities and help them prosper. My Administration is expanding consultation and collaborative decision-making with tribal governments to promote self-determination. We also support tribal government economic development initiatives, particularly those that increase or enhance the infrastructure necessary for long-term economic growth. My New Markets Initiative seeks to leverage public and private investment to boost economic development in areas that have not shared in our recent national prosperity. In July, I visited the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Sioux, as part of my New Markets Tour, to explore opportunities for economic development in Indian Country.

Among the most serious barriers to economic growth facing tribal communities is a lack of housing, physical infrastructure, and essential services. My Administration is working with tribal leaders to build and renovate affordable housing on tribal lands, bring quality drinking water to economically distressed Indian communities, and improve public safety. We are moving to assist tribal governments in developing the physical infrastructure needed for economic development, including roads, fiber-optic cabling, and electric power lines.

In working together to shape a brighter future for Indian Country, we must not lose sight of the rich history of Native Americans. Just weeks ago, the Smithsonian Institution broke ground on the National Mall for the National Museum of the American Indian. This wonderful facility will preserve and celebrate the art, history, and culture of America's indigenous peoples. It is also fitting that the first U.S. dollar coin of the new millennium will bear the likeness of Sacajawea and her infant son -- an image that captures the importance of our shared history.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 1999 as National American Indian Heritage Month. I urge all Americans, as well as their elected representatives at the Federal, State, local, and tribal levels, to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth.


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