Today, Senator Brian Schatz introduced a bill that would facilitate the construction of a Native American Veterans' Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The Schatz bill, S.1046, will provide the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) with the much needed flexibility to raise funds and move forward on construction of a memorial to honor the brave men and women of Native American heritage who have served our nation. "This memorial, originally championed by Senators Inouye and McCain and signed into law in 1994, has languished far too long," said Schatz. Senators Hirono, Barrasso, and Tester are original co-sponsors.
"Every Memorial Day we honor the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, and today's legislation would allow for construction of a memorial on the National Mall so that people from across the country can honor the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices of our Native American veterans," said Senator Brian Schatz. "Per capita Native Americans, including American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, serve at a higher rate in the Armed Forces that any other group of Americans and have served in all of the Nation's wars since the Revolutionary War. Our Native veterans have sacrificed their lives for this country and it is important that we recognize their bravery and patriotism with a fitting memorial. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Indian Affairs Committee and in the United States Senate to get this bill passed and finally have a National Native American Veterans Memorial in our nation's capital."
"It's crucial that we honor all of our nation's veterans, including our Native American veterans who bravely answered the call to serve and defend our country. This bill is an important step toward making this privately funded and long awaited memorial a reality at last," said Senator Barrasso.
"Native Americans have fought bravely and been a critical part of the American military for generations," Senator Tester said. "It's long-past time we honor their sacrifices with the recognition they earned. This memorial is one more way we can pay our respects and say "thank you' for their courageous service to our country."
"We are grateful to Senator Schatz for his interest, and Senators Inouye and Akaka for their contribution. And we look forward to working with Senator Schatz as we move forward, empowering the National Museum of the American Indian to be directly involved in the process of erecting this memorial," said Kevin Gover, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian.
"I am grateful to Senator Schatz for revitalizing this effort which Senators Inouye and Akaka initially advocated," said Native Hawaiian veteran and advocate Allen Hoe. "As a veteran and a Native Hawaiian, I can say that it would mean a lot to our community to have a memorial on the National Mall commemorating our service to our country. I thank Senator Schatz for his leadership and look forward to visiting Washington, DC when this monument is complete."
"We mahalo Senator Schatz for advancing the work of Senator Inouye and Senator Akaka on behalf of all Native peoples, including Native Hawaiians," said Robin Puanani Danner, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement President, a national network of more than 150 Native Hawaiian organizations. "We must honor and always remember the contributions made by our veterans. The memorial will tell a powerful story, especially for the next generation. Similar to Japanese Americans during war time, Native peoples share a difficult history with our federal government, and we also share an extraordinary commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy."
"The Alaska Federation of Natives recognizes the tremendous contributions of Native veterans to our country. It is an honor to support furthering the steps to memorialize these contributions on the National Mall in Washington DC. AFN strongly supports moving this bill forward this Congress," said Julie Kitka, President, Alaska Federation of Natives, the largest statewide Native organization in Alaska.
"It is essential that we fulfill Senator Inouye and Indian Country's vision for a memorial to honor the service and sacrifice of our Native American service members. NCAI supports the amendments to the Native American Veterans' Memorial Establishment Act of 1994, which will make the memorial a reality and allow for it to be built on the property of the National Museum of the American Indian," said Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians and a decorated veteran. "Most importantly, this bill allows for more flexibility for tribal nations and the United States to work together to honor the contributions and sacrifices of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian military service members and veterans. As a Native veteran myself, I look forward to the day my fellow veterans are recognized for their contributions to protecting the sovereignty of tribal nations and the United States."