The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian held a groundbreaking ceremony for the National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., September 21, 2019.
The memorial, titled: Warriors’ Circle of Honor, was designed by U.S. Marine Corps veteran Harvey Pratt, a Southern Cheyenne chief for the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. Pratt approached the design with Native American spirituality and elements in mind.
“The timelessness of this memorial is going to fit everybody- it fits our ancestors, it fits us now and it will fit us in the future,” said Pratt. “All veterans are welcome. It is a place for healing, comfort and strength.”
This memorial is the first of its kind in Washington.
“This memorial will join the other memorials along the National Mall, but tell the story of the veterans of past wars,” said Jefferson Keel, National Native American Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee Co-Chair.
“But instead of focusing on any one war or even on war at all, our memorial focuses on the qualities of the warrior.”
The advisory committee sought input from tribal leaders, Native veterans and Native community members from 2015-2017. From those inputs, the committee held a design competition in November of 2017 and announced in June 2018 Pratt’s design was selected. Keel invites all veterans to the memorial on Veteran’s Day, September 11, 2020, when the dedication is slated to be held in their honor.
Speakers during the ceremony included National Museum of the American Indian Director Kevin Gover, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, U.S. Representative Debra Haaland, Smithsonian Institute Provost John Davis, Memorial Designer Harvey Pratt, and National Native American Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee Co-Chair Jefferson Keel. Performances by Charly Lowry, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Singers, and Tipiziwin and T Tolman.
For more information on the National Museum of the American Indian or the National Native American Veterans Memorial, visit http://nmai.si.edu/nnavm/