Schatz's Bill Will Move Forward a Long-Awaited Memorial on National Mall Honoring Native Hawaiian, Alaskan Natives, and American Indian Veterans
On O`ahu today, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai"i), the Native American Memorial Amendments Act of 2013, to pave the way forward for a long-awaited Native American Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
"It is long past time for our nation to honor the uncommon contributions of Native Hawaiian, Alaskan Natives, American Indian, and other native veterans," said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. "I introduced this bill so that our nation can recognize Native Americans' service and patriotism with a fitting memorial. A memorial to native veterans will make sure future generations learn about the sacrifices Native Americans made in service to our nation. The valor of our Native American veterans, their dedication to duty and remarkable record of military service, must forever be remembered. This memorial will do just that."
A Native American Veterans Memorial was originally established more than 20 years ago, but has unfortunately been languishing due to some funding and logistical problems. Senator Schatz's legislation will help pave the way forward for the memorial by allowing the National Museum of the American Indian to accept donations to privately fund the memorial, as well as enabling the museum to take on a more active role in planning and construction. Previously, the memorial would have had to be built inside the museum building, but Schatz's bill allows for the memorial to be located on the National Mall.
This legislation builds off of the work of Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who introduced the initial bill to authorize a native veterans memorial, and Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawai"i), who worked as Indian Affairs Committee chairman to enact the law in 1994. Senator Schatz's bill carries on the work of Senator Akaka who, as Indian Affairs Committee chairman, initiated this effort in 2012 to fulfill the promise of this memorial.
It is endorsed by the National Congress of the American Indians, Alaska Federation of Natives, and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the largest three Native American membership organizations in the country. The National Museum of the American Indian and National Park Service are in agreement as well. U.S. Senators Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Begich (D-Alaska), Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Hirono (D-Hawai"i), Inhofe (R-Okla.), Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tester (D-Mont.), Thune (R-S.D.), and Wyden (D-Ore.) are all co-sponsors of Schatz's bill.
Last week, Senator Schatz spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate about the legislation and Hawai`i's record of service.