WASHINGTON — After 25 years since conceptualization, the National Native American Veterans Memorial was unveiled on Wednesday, which marks Veterans Day, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the opening was held virtually via the museum’s website.

“The National Native American Veterans Memorial will serve as a reminder to the nation and the world of the service and sacrifice of Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian veterans,” said Kevin Gover, director of the museum. “Native Americans have always answered the call to serve, and this memorial is a fitting tribute to their patriotism and deep commitment to this country.”

American Indians and Alaska Natives serve in the U.S. armed forces at a higher rate than any other demographic. Since 9/11, almost 19 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives have served in the military compared to an average of 14 percent of other racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

The memorial, which sits on the grounds of the museum, was commissioned by Congress to give “all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service of Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States.” Native Americans have served in every major military conflict in the U.S. since the Revolutionary War. This will be the first national landmark in Washington to focus on the contributions of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians who have served in the military.

The memorial design is by Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma), a multimedia artist, retired forensic artist and Marine Corps Vietnam veteran. The design features an elevated stainless-steel circle resting on a carved stone drum. It also incorporates water for sacred ceremonies, benches for gatherings and four lances where veterans, family members, tribal leaders and others can tie cloths for prayers and healing.

The museum planned to host a dedication ceremony and veterans’ procession to mark the memorial’s completion but postponed those events due to current health and safety guidelines. The museum will reschedule both events when it is safe to do so.

Major support for the National Native American Veterans Memorial has been provided by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes; Chickasaw Nation; Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies; Poarch Band of Creek Indians; San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; and Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The memorial has also been widely supported by tribal governments and tribal veterans organizations. More than 85 tribes, individuals, corporations and other organizations have contributed to the memorial.

It's December 2020, can you help...

We’re asking our readers for a little help as 2020 draws to a close.  If you can afford it, we hope you’ll consider a one-time donation of $5 or more to help fund our Indigenous-led coverage of important news throughout Indian Country.  Covering the news hasn’t been easy this year, but we believe it’s been critically important given the changes and upheaval we’ve experienced — from COVID-19 and the 2020 Census, to issues of racial equity, efforts to suppress the Native vote, and far too many stories of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.

Because we believe everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities, the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. But we hope it inspires you to make a gift to Native News Online so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount, big or small, gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online Staff