Veterans prepare to carry Veterans Totem Pole, representing all branches of the U.S. military.

Alaskans and the rest of the nation are taking time this weekend to honor U.S. military veterans. Veterans Day, recognized each November 11, is a time to recognize and honor those who served in the US Armed Forces. According to the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Alaska Natives and American Indians have played a vital role in the military.

Sealaska is proud to join the long list of Native nations, organizations and veteran’s groups who have made a financial commitment. Sealaska directors approved $50,000 to support the construction of the memorial. We thank our veterans for their patriotism and service to our country. Sealaska is proud to contribute to a meaningful cause. Sealaska’s long history of supporting Veteran’s programs aligns with our values

Sealaska advocates for veterans and has been a strong supporter for the passage of the Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act (H.R. 1867 | S. 785).  Hundreds of Alaska Natives were on active duty serving in the Vietnam War. As a result, they did not have the opportunity to apply for Native Allotments. The legislation would allow those who qualified to apply.

Vietnam veteran and former Sealaska Director Bill Thomas (in country Vietnam Veteran-1968) says he’s proud of Sealaska for supporting the memorial. “With the high percentage of American Indians who are veterans, this contribution by Sealaska pays a great tribute to all American Indians past present and future,” said Thomas. “I am totally supportive of this contribution to honor our veterans, Southeast has never hesitated to serve our country. When I was growing up, I understood that I would serve my country like my uncles before me. I am proud to be an American Indian veteran.”

In 2013, Congress recognized 33 tribes across the Nation, including Tlingit & Haida Central Council, for unrecognized roles of Code Talkers during both World Wars. At the same time, Congress also recognized, five Southeast Natives servicemen. Robert “Jeff” David Sr., Richard Bean Sr., George Lewis Jr., Harvey Jacobs and Mark Jacobs Jr. were awarded silver medals posthumously for the instrumental role they played as Tlingit Code Talkers. Read more about the Tlingit Code Talkers here and here.