Native American Veterans’ Memorial to be built on the National Mall in Washington D.C. #CHIEF CORNERSTONE >>> BANNING — A bronze eagle – wings spread and talons outstretched — is frozen in swoop on the granite pillar Angelo Schunke walks past, heading to point out his name engraved in gold.
More than 90 names are on this tribute to Morongo Band of Cahuilla Indians military veterans.
“That’s 10 percent of our tribe,” said Schunke, 59, of Yucaipa, a U.S. Navy veteran who helped establish the memorial.
“We have served our country proudly and honorably as Native Americans,” he said. “It was your duty. It was an honor to serve and to do it in such a way that you’re putting back, or doing your part or appreciating what you have — and you’re willing protect it.”
The memorial, arranged in a circle to represent tribal rituals and with weave patterns as a nod to the tribe’s heritage of basket weaving, is among few in the country dedicated to Native Americans.
Schunke’s visit to his name on Thursday, though, coincided with a bill being introduced to raise money and build a Native American Veterans’ Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, introduced the legislation to fix a problem with the original law, passed in 1994, which didn’t allow the National Museum of the American Indian the ability to raise money for the project.
“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,” Schatz said in a statement. “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.”