Okla. Rep. files bill for native veterans memorial

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma congressman has introduced legislation to build a memorial to Native American veterans in Washington, D.C.

Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin said his bill would amend existing law to allow the National Museum of the American Indian to build the memorial on the museum's grounds on the National Mall. Current law authorizes a memorial inside the museum, but Mullin said there isn't enough room.

"Our Native American heritage is one we can take pride in and one we should respectfully honor," said Mullin, a member of the Cherokee Nation who sits on the House Natural Resources subcommittee on Indian and Alaskan Native Affairs. "Passage of this legislation is vital to get this project off the ground and get our brave Native Americans who fought for our freedoms the memorial they deserve."

Ten co-sponsors have signed on to Mullin's bill, including fellow Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation.

"We both have great pride in our Native American heritage and recognize the importance of sharing that heritage with others," said Cole, also a Republican. "It is high time that the National Museum of the American Indian is able to move forward with the construction of a memorial to honor our veterans on its grounds."

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said he supports the legislation.

"The Cherokee people have a deep tradition in American military history," Baker said. "They served and they fought — and many of them died — for the freedoms that we all enjoy today. I hope we keep their history alive."

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