Pascua Yaqui tribal members who served in the military are getting some extra homage from the U.S. government.
The Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday the tribe will receive a grant of more than $320,000 for its veterans cemetery on tribal land.
The money will be used to construct a memorial wall at the site and to make some improvements to veterans' grave markers, tribal officials said.
The Yaqui are among the first tribes in the nation to receive such funding, the VA said. Until recently, federal spending excluded veterans cemeteries located on reservations.
"We are very proud to receive this grant," said Tribal Chairman Peter Yucupicio. The financial recognition is fitting, he said, given the long history of Yaqui service in the U. S. military.
Yucupicio said the tribe's veterans cemetery is in a two-acre section of a larger cemetery not far from the tribe's headquarters at 7474 S. Camino De Oeste.
The VA said the cemetery, with about 350 gravesites overall, has burial sites for about 188 Yaqui military veterans and their families.
The extension of cemetery funding to tribal governments is one of several new initiatives to recognize the contributions of troops from Native American communities.
Earlier this year, the VA created a new Office of Tribal Governmental Relations to increase awareness of the VA benefits available to such veterans.
"There is a long, distinguished tradition of military service among tribal peoples," Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a news release at the time.
"VA is committed to providing these veterans with the full range of VA programs, as befits their service to our nation."
Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4138.