The National Native American Veterans Memorial: A Place for Honor and for Healing | Veterans Day 2022

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  kavika  •  3 weeks ago  •  27 comments

By:   Paulette Beete

The National Native American Veterans Memorial: A Place for Honor and for Healing | Veterans Day 2022
Artist Harvey Pratt talks about envisioning the National Native America Veterans Memorial as a place for healing.

The dedication of the Native America Veterans Memorial takes place today, on Veterans Day 2022 and Native American Heritage month. 


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



May 31, 2021 By Paulette Beete

The National Native American Veterans Memorial. November 2020. On the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.. Designed by Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes). Photo by Alan Karchmer for the National Museum of the American Indian

Sited on the grounds of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), the National Native American Veterans Memorial is, as described by the museum, "an interactive yet intimate space for gathering, remembrance, reflection, and healing." Designed by Oklahoma-born artist Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma), the memorial comprises an elevated stainless-steel circle balanced on an intricately carved stone drum and also includes, per the NMAI website, "water for sacred ceremonies, benches for gathering and reflection, and four lances where veterans, family members, tribal leaders, and others can tie cloths for prayers."

The National Native American Veterans Memorial. November 2020. On the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.. Designed by Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes). Photo by Alan Karchmer for the National Museum of the American Indian

Though Pratt's design was ultimately unanimously selected through a jury process, Pratt almost didn't submit a design for the project at all. As he explained in a telephone interview, "I said, 'There's going to be thousands of people and companies competing for that.' So, I kind of blew it off.'" Encouraged by a Native friend who worked with veterans, however, to apply in honor of his tribal community, Pratt agreed to at least think about drafting a proposal. "I said, 'Let me dream on it,'" he remembered.

Primarily self-taught, Pratt has been an artist for as long as he can remember. Raised by his mother, who was widowed when Pratt was not yet in kindergarten, Pratt remembers he and his siblings making their own toys from modeling clay provided by their grandfather. Encouraged to develop his talent for visual arts by supportive teachers, Pratt initially made artwork primarily as a way to make money. He continued making art through college, where he majored in psychology, and also while he was in the Marine Corps. A career turning point came after he joined the Oklahoma City Police Department. Knowing that Pratt was an artist, the chief of detectives asked Pratt to take a survivor's witness statement as part of a homicide investigation. As Pratt remembered, "I had no idea how to do that. I just [went] over and started talking her and made the drawing. And we caught the guy based on that drawing." What followed was a decades-long career as a forensic artist for both the police department and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations. As Pratt described, "I've probably done over 5,000 witness description drawings. I've probably done 2,000 soft tissue reconstructions, cranial facial reconstructions, age progressions, photo alterations, and clean ups."

As with his forensic work, Pratt developed his idea for the memorial—which was and continues to be funded by donations primarily from Native communities—by asking questions, which then helped him sketch the look of the memorial. The primary conundrum was how to develop a common design language to represent hundreds of tribes, all with their own customs and traditions. "How do you reach 574 different [federally recognized] tribes plus state-recognized tribes?" he recalled wondering. He decided to start with the idea of ceremony.

Pratt noted that Native tribes have a long tradition of using ceremonies to combat PTSD in their warriors. "They recognized that people came in from battle, and they were still carrying that around in their hearts. So they had these ceremonies that they used to take care of their veterans," he said. Pratt had experienced that healing for himself. "When I came home from Vietnam, my family did a purification ceremony and they prayed for me. They invited people to come and dance. My family fed everybody there, and my mother and stepfather gave away a lot of belongings in my honor," he said. He added that while the memorial was going to be dedicated to Native veterans, he envisioned it as a site where any and all veterans could experience healing. "Anybody can go there and if they're a veteran, they can sit there and maybe somebody'll come along and bless them. They'll smoke them off, and they'll pray for them and help them heal," he said.

The circles that make up the design are directly influenced both by Pratt's own experience of ceremonies and the widely held regard for the circle as a sacred shape. "I'm a Southern Cheyenne chief, and I've been through a lot of ceremonies. We always have a place to go to," he said. It was important that the memorial not just be an object to look at, but a place with its own atmosphere that would envelop visitors, and so Pratt planned the memorial as an interactive space. "We wanted people to come there, and we wanted them to make their offerings and say their prayers, make their pledges and feed the spirit, and use the water and the fire so they will have a blessing and heal," he said.

Pratt further refined his vision for the memorial by adding features that would be universally recognized by Native people, including the natural elements of water, fire, earth, and air; cardinal points; and lances, eagle feathers, and sacred colors and directions.
The memorial also incorporates military elements not only to honor that Native people have served in all of the country's armed forces but also to acknowledge the special reverence accorded to veterans in tribal communities. "I incorporated the military seals because Native people have served in all of those armed services. We're also going to educate non-Native people on who we are, what we do, and how we feel about our veterans," he said.

The memorial will be formally dedicated in November 2022, though since it's sited outdoors, it has been open to the public since last November. Pratt and his wife Gina visited the memorial last fall, and were able to watch first-hand as visitors experienced for themselves the harmony and timelessness of the site, an experience that made Pratt emotional. "A lot of memorials are dated. The Vietnam Memorial has a date," Pratt reflected. "The National Native American Veterans Memorial is not dated. It reaches back into the past and it reaches into the future.

NNAVM_2020AK23_221_a.jpg?h=40ce5f67&itok=RP2pKvWA


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Kavika
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Kavika     3 weeks ago

A memorial to honor Native Americans/Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian veterans.

A day to honor all veterans. 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Kavika @1    3 weeks ago

Roy P. Benavidez (Yaqui)

Roy-P-Benavidez.jpg

US Army Special Forces soldier Roy Benavidez, Yaqui Indian (1935-1998). GI JOE action figure, Medal of Honor recipient Roy P. Benavidez (below).

Benavidez_GI_Joe.png CITATION:

Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army.   After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team's position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team's position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy's fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader's body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy's fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez's gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.

Benavidez_Medals.jpg

Military ribbons, medals of Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez, Medal of Honor recipient.

 
 
 
al Jizzerror
Junior Expert
1.1.1  al Jizzerror  replied to  Kavika @1.1    3 weeks ago

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1stwarrior
Professor Guide
1.1.2  1stwarrior  replied to  Kavika @1.1    3 weeks ago

A man to be definitely honored.  Thank you MSgt Benavidez.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
1.1.3  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Kavika @1.1    3 weeks ago

I agree with al. jrSmiley_93_smiley_image.jpg

Happy Veterens Day, Kavika.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.4  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1.1    3 weeks ago

the ultimate american warriors.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
2  Drinker of the Wry    3 weeks ago

I walked by it on Wednesday, it is an inspiring and solemn design. This memorial, long overdue, brings recognition to the large number of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians who have served this nation since the Revolutionary War.  Few Americans now that as we have taken so much from them they have served our military in greater numbers than any other group.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2    3 weeks ago

The money to build this memorial was secured through donations, there was no state/district or federal money involved.

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Guide
3  1stwarrior    3 weeks ago

Why We Serve honors the generations of Native Americans who have served in the armed forces of the United States—often in extraordinary numbers—since the American Revolution.

For some, the Indigenous commitment to the U.S. military doesn’t make sense. Why would Indians serve a country that overran their homelands, suppressed their cultures, and confined them to reservations?

Native people have served for the same reasons as anyone else: to demonstrate patriotism or pursue employment, education, or adventure. Many were drafted. Yet tribal warrior traditions, treaty commitments with the United States, and responsibility for defending Native homelands have also inspired the enduring legacy of Indigenous military service.

Why We Serve commemorates the National Native American Veterans Memorial, dedicated at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Guide
4  1stwarrior    3 weeks ago

256256

Billy Walkabout  (March 31, 1949 – March 7, 2007) is thought to be the most decorated  Native American  soldier of the  Vietnam War . He received one  Distinguished Service Cross  (upgraded from Silver Star), one  Bronze Star Medal , one  Army Commendation Medal , and one  Purple Heart . Other sources  and images report multiple awards of silver stars, bronze stars, army commendation medals, purple hearts and air medals. Walkabout received the Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart, five Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars. 

Walkabout served as a combat infantryman in Vietnam, serving in Company F (LRP) ( 1 Feb 1969 became L co 75th Inf RGR ) 58th Infantry, which was attached to the 101st Airborne Division. Walkabout distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 20 November 1968 during a long range reconnaissance patrol southwest of Hue.

After successfully ambushing an enemy squad on a jungle trail, the friendly patrol radioed for immediate helicopter extraction. When the extraction helicopters arrived and the lead man began moving toward the pick-up zone, he was seriously wounded by hostile automatic weapons fire. Sergeant Walkabout quickly rose to his feet and delivered steady suppressive fire on the attackers while other team members pulled the wounded man back to their ranks. Sergeant Walkabout then administered first aid to the soldier in preparation for medical evacuation. As the man was being loaded onto the evacuation helicopter, enemy elements again attacked the team.

Maneuvering under heavy fire, PFC Walkabout positioned himself where the enemy were concentrating their assault and placed continuous rifle fire on the adversary. A command-detonated mine ripped through the friendly team, instantly killing three men and wounding all the others. Although stunned and wounded by the blast, Sergeant Walkabout rushed from man to man administering first aid, bandaging one soldier's severe chest wound and reviving another soldier by heart massage. He then coordinated gunship and tactical air strikes on the enemy's positions. When evacuation helicopters arrived again, he worked single-handedly under fire to board his disabled comrades. Only when the casualties had been evacuated and friendly reinforcements had arrived, did he allow himself to be extracted. He retired as a second lieutenant.

Warriors deserving our respect and honor.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
4.1  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  1stwarrior @4    3 weeks ago

My dad often mentions Walkabout as one of our finest. 

Happy Veterans day 1st and to all our Vets!

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
5  Perrie Halpern R.A.    3 weeks ago

What a beautiful monument! It's just perfect. Thanks for posting this article. I do get smarter here.

 
 
 
pat wilson
Professor Guide
6  pat wilson    3 weeks ago

Thank you to you and so many of your family for your service !

 
 
 
shona1
Junior Participates
7  shona1    3 weeks ago

Morning..in the eyes of a foreigner the memorial exudes tranquillity, memories and peace..🇺🇸

A truly fitting memorial..

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
7.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  shona1 @7    3 weeks ago

It is designed for people to sit around the Circle which to us is the circle of life it sits on a drum which is the heartbeat of Indian people and the four lances signify the four directions and the four colors of man. They are designed so that visitors can tie a prayer cloth on them if they so desire. It is not focesed on a specific time frame or war but on our history past and our history forward. 

 
 
 
al Jizzerror
Junior Expert
7.1.1  al Jizzerror  replied to  Kavika @7.1    3 weeks ago
It is designed for people to sit around the Circle

It sounds like a good place to pass the pipe....

BTW, weed is now legal in DC.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
7.1.2  seeder  Kavika   replied to  al Jizzerror @7.1.1    3 weeks ago

I have a few pipes, but my favorite is a Red Pipestone Eagles Head Medicine Pipe from the pipestone quarry in Minnesota it is worked by NA's and the pipes are works of art.

This is similar to the one that I have. 

Waasa Inaabidaa (we look in all directions)

cep62-eagle-double-3.jpg?w=584

 
 
 
al Jizzerror
Junior Expert
7.1.3  al Jizzerror  replied to  Kavika @7.1.2    3 weeks ago

jrSmiley_93_smiley_image.jpg

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
8  Ender    3 weeks ago

I would like to visit up North again for a while.

I have been to the Smithsonian but I have not seen many of the monuments.

I would like to take a day or two walking around DC and looking at things like this.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
8.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Ender @8    3 weeks ago

I would like to make one last visit to D.C. The last time I was there was in the early 1980s for the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
8.1.1  Ender  replied to  Kavika @8.1    3 weeks ago

I was still in Maryland in the early 80s.

Sort of a shame that I would have rather partied with friends than take trips around and doing things (teenagers).

Would have been so convenient where we were.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
8.1.2  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Kavika @8.1    3 weeks ago

The National Museum of the Marine Corps right outside Quantico and the new National Museum of the Army at Ft. Belvoir are worth visiting.  The National Museum of African-American History and Culture, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center are all new since you were last.

 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
8.1.3  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Drinker of the Wry @8.1.2    3 weeks ago

Those will all be on my must do list.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
8.1.4  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Ender @8.1.1    3 weeks ago

I would have done my best to lead you astray.

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
9  Ender    3 weeks ago
The circles that make up the design are directly influenced both by Pratt's own experience of ceremonies and the widely held regard for the circle as a sacred shape.

I was wondering about that and the meaning.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
9.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Ender @9    3 weeks ago

 It is a sacred shape and used in almost all Indian ceremonies.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
Professor Guide
10  Raven Wing    3 weeks ago

My appreciation and prayers to all those who put their life on the line for our country, and for those who gave it their all. 

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