Patrons take a picture on April 8, 2011, in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama last month
Patrons take a picture on April 8, 2011, in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama last month signed a bill to construct a national memorial to honor American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian veterans on the grounds of the museum. (Alex Brandon — The Associated Press)

Farmington >> Late last month, another step was completed in the process of constructing a national memorial to honor the military service of American Indians.

President Barack Obama has signed into law the Native American Veterans' Memorial Amendments Act of 2013.

The heart of the bill is to construct a national memorial to honor American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian veterans on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

The bill amended the 1994 act, which stated that the memorial cannot be funded by taxpayer money or receive any federal funds, leaving the museum to raise funds to build the memorial.

Under the amendment, the location of the memorial moved from inside the museum building to an area outside of the museum.

The bill received support from the National Congress of American Indians, which will help with raising funds for the project and design.

"NCAI is looking forward to celebrating and honoring the dedication and commitment of Native veterans with a physical monument to their bravery," the organization said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, sponsored the bill in the Senate, and U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., sponsored it in the House.

Obama signed it into law Dec. 26.

"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," Schatz said in a press release.

Mullin, who is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, said the memorial is important to Native Americans and their families.

Feathers from the ceremonial bonnets of Aztec Indians frame the Capitol as thousands of American Indians gather Sept. 21, 2004, on the National Mall for
Feathers from the ceremonial bonnets of Aztec Indians frame the Capitol as thousands of American Indians gather Sept. 21, 2004, on the National Mall for the start of the Native Nations Procession to help dedicate the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. (J. Scott Applewhite — The Associated Press)

"It is important that we properly honor these brave soldiers and tell their stories for generations to come," Mullin said in a press release.

The idea for a national memorial to honor Native American veterans started more than 20 years ago, but it faced funding and logistical problems.

The 1994 act was cosponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and the late Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636. nsmith@daily-times.com Follow her @nsmithdt on Twitter.