Native American Veterans Receive a Place of Their Own to Reflect and to Heal At the Smithsonian - Veterans Day 11/11/2020

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  kavika  •  2 weeks ago  •  29 comments

By:   Alicia Ault (Smithsonian Magazine)

Native American Veterans Receive a Place of Their Own to Reflect and to Heal At the Smithsonian - Veterans Day 11/11/2020
After two decades in the making, a veterans memorial is dedicated at the National Museum of the American Indian

I've been waiting for a memorial dedicated to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians since the 1960s. 

I was going to be at the unveiling today in D.C. but the pandemic changed those plans. 

Thank you to all veterans of all colors and creeds. You are deserving of all honors bestowed upon you. 

Click on this link for photos and a video of the memorial.  https://americanindian.si.edu/visit/washington/nnavm


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



After two decades in the making, a veterans memorial is dedicated at the National Museum of the American Indian


An unveiling ceremony takes place virtually on November 11, 2020 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. (NMAI, Alan Karchmer) By Alicia Ault smithsonianmag.com
November 10, 2020 12:15PM

On November 11, Veterans Day, the first national memorial dedicated solely to Native American veterans will be unveiled at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. The monument has been a little more than two decades in the making.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the unveiling will be virtual and won't have the originally- planned pageantry. It will be marked by a short virtual message that will be posted to the museum's website and its YouTube channel. But the unveiling will still be a triumphant and poignant moment for the hundreds of thousands of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians who have served, or are currently serving in the military—and for their families and communities.

"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," says the museum's director Kevin Gover.

"Native peoples have served in the United States military since the American Revolution and continue to serve at one of the highest rates per capita of any population group," wroteSmithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch in the November issue of Smithsonian magazine. The Memorial "will recognize—for the first time on a national scale—the extraordinary service of these men and women and our shared obligation to honor this legacy," he wrote. "I have always thought that you can tell an enormous amount about a nation by what it chooses to remember. This memorial and others to veterans, both on the National Mall and around the United States, are vital corners of our national memory."

"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," says the museum's director Kevin Gover. (NMAI, Alan Karchmer) Designer Harvey Pratt says the idea came to him in a dream. A circle is not only timeless—with no beginning and end—but it is important to all Native cultures, he says. "It's the cycle of life, it's the cycle of the seasons, it's the sun and the moon, it's the earth, it's kivas, it's tipis, dance circles," says Pratt. (NMAI, Alan Karchmer) "Native peoples have served in the United States military since the American Revolution and continue to serve at one of the highest rates per capita of any population group," says Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch. (NMAI, Alan Karchmer)

Harvey Pratt, who designed and created the National Native American Veterans Memorial, says he believes it will become a place of strength, power, healing and spirituality. Visitors will be coming "to pray for their family, for their loved ones that are in the military, they're going to pray for ancestors that were in the military, they're going to pray for their grandchildren [who] will be in the military," says Pratt, a 79-year-old multimedia artist, Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam, and member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.

"They will come and make blessings and make sacrifices," he says.

"Harvey Pratt created a space where Native people will be able to—whether in groups or individually—come into the space and if they want to they can do a ceremony to remember their own service or veterans from their community or their family," says Rebecca Trautmann, the museum's curator for the Memorial.

The Memorial—dominated by a 12-foot diameter stainless steel silver circle balanced on a 20-inch-high stone drum—is nestled in a woodlands environment just outside the museum's main entrance. Visitors approach the Memorial on a meandering pathway and can enter a circular seating area from one of the four cardinal directions. There are four stainless steel vertical lances with bronze feathers and tips where visitors can tie prayer cloths. The seals of the five branches of the U.S. armed forces are on a wall nearby.

Why We Serve: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces


Why We Serve commemorates the 2020 opening of the National Native American Veterans Memorial at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, the first landmark in Washington, D.C., to recognize the bravery and sacrifice of Native veterans. The history of Native military service dates to colonial times, and today, they serve at one of the highest rates of any ethnic group.

Water flows continuously from the drum's center and the museum anticipates lighting a flame at the base of the circle on occasions like Veteran's Day, says Trautmann.

"The trees, the water, the sounds of birds and insects, and the wind going through the trees should help separate the memorial from the noise of the city," she says. Its location will also "make it a quieter and more contemplative experience," Trautmann says.

When the museum put out the original call for designs in 2017, the artists were charged with coming up with a memorial that would appeal to all native veterans, men and women, and all branches of the military. "Probably one of the biggest challenges of creating this memorial was finding a design that would be truly inclusive of all these different communities, individuals and traditions," says Trautmann.

Once Congress finally authorized the building of the Memorial in 2013—after having first considered it in 1994—the museum put together an advisory committee made up of Native American veterans, tribal leaders and family members. That committee met with some 1,200 people in 16 states and Washington, D.C. over an 18-month period. "We really wanted to hear from Native veterans, their families, communities and tribal leaders what their experience of service has been and what they wanted the experience of visiting this Memorial to be—what was the story that the Memorial needed to tell and what are the values it should embody," says Trautmann.

On Veteran's Day in 2017, the museum put out an international call for designs. More than 100 proposals were submitted. The jurors announced in June 2018 that they'd unanimously selected Pratt's design from among the five finalists. "As a universally respected symbol among Native cultures, the circle is an ideal foundation for a timeless and powerful memorial," the jury wrote in a 2018 report appraising the finalists. "For something so simple, it is quite moving," they said.

Pratt says the idea came to him in a dream. A circle is not only timeless—with no beginning and end—but it is important to all Native cultures, he says. "It's the cycle of life, it's the cycle of the seasons, it's the sun and the moon, it's the earth, it's kivas, it's tipis, dance circles," says Pratt.

"Harvey likes to talk about this stainless steel circle as being the hole in the sky where the creator lives," Trautmann says. The wind will carry prayers skyward through that opening, she says.

The $15 million project was funded from private contributions and not as a part of the Federal appropriation—$8 million went to construction, $4 million is for programming and outreach, and $3 million is for the ongoing care of the Memorial, says Trautmann.

Native American tribes and entities are the largest—and the majority of—the 85 or so contributors. Top donors include 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. Other sponsors include Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Calista Corporation, and Doyon, Limited, all of which are Alaska Native corporations. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Employees and Supporters also contributed, as Pratt is a retired forensic artist and a retired investigator for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Many tribes were planning to bring their veterans to Washington for the Memorial's dedication. "We're looking forward to seeing many of them next year when it's safe for us to gather again," says Trautmann.

In the meantime, those interested in Native American participation in military service can view the related exhibition, "Why We Serve" online or at the museum. The show, which opens November 11, details the 250-year history of Native American service in the U.S. military, and tells personal stories of Native veterans. The show is complemented by the companion guide from Smithsonian Books, Why We Serve: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces; the 240-page volume is a deep dive into the history of Native service.

Trautmann expects that once it's safe to do so, tribes will bring veterans and warriors groups to see the Memorial, and that Native-specific Honor Flights will make it an important stop. "It will be really exciting to see how it's received and how it becomes part of that pilgrimage to Washington," she says.

Harvey says he hopes it will be a destination for Native and non-Native veterans alike. "We welcome all veterans to come there and to pray and to feel good and to be healed," he says.

Trautmann says it is a living, breathing Memorial, not just a place to stand and look. Pratt agrees. "It's not a place to walk by, it's a place that you have to go," he says.


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Kavika
1  seeder  Kavika     2 weeks ago

NO POLITICS

DUST TO ASHES BY J.D. CHALLENGER.

challenger-ashes-to-dust.jpg

 
 
 
Kavika
1.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Kavika @1    2 weeks ago

I would be remiss in not mentioning the Code Talkers of WWI and WWII. 

There are no remaining Choctaw Code Talkers from WWI. 

There were 31 Native Tribes that had code talkers in WWII most now are no longer with us. There are 4 of the Navajo Code Talkers left out of 400.

 
 
 
devangelical
2  devangelical    2 weeks ago

very long past due.

 
 
 
Kavika
2.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @2    2 weeks ago

Indeed it is, devan.

 
 
 
evilgenius
3  evilgenius    2 weeks ago

Nice article. The Smithsonian is on my bucket list vacation.

 
 
 
Kavika
3.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  evilgenius @3    2 weeks ago

I've been to the Smithsonian a couple of times what a great place to visit and learn.

I really wanted to go to the unveiling of the American Indian Vet's Memorial but the virus sure changed everyone's plans.

 
 
 
Ender
3.2  Ender  replied to  evilgenius @3    2 weeks ago

I went there a couple of times as a kid. Was a long time ago.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
4  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

Great news -  congratulations to all American Indian veterans on this well deserved memorial. 

 
 
 
Kavika
4.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  JohnRussell @4    2 weeks ago

Thank you, JR.

 
 
 
Gsquared
5  Gsquared    2 weeks ago

How great and how very-well deserved.  It looks like it is in a beautiful location and I appreciate the symbolic use of a Native American drum as part of the monument.

 
 
 
Kavika
5.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Gsquared @5    2 weeks ago
I appreciate the symbolic use of a Native American drum as part of the monument.

It is known to us as the ''heartbeat of the people''.

 
 
 
Gsquared
5.1.1  Gsquared  replied to  Kavika @5.1    2 weeks ago
''heartbeat of the people''

Fantastic.  Thanks for telling me about that Kavika.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
6  sandy-2021492    2 weeks ago

I'm glad American Indians finally are getting the recognition they deserve for their service.

 
 
 
Kavika
6.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  sandy-2021492 @6    2 weeks ago

Thanks, Sandy, it's a monumental moment for NA veterans.

 
 
 
Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
7  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom    2 weeks ago

It is so beautiful, Kav.  When a proper ceremony can be held, I hope you are able to attend.  

And by the way, this is the third time in as many weeks that I've been a blubbering fool after reading on of your contributions. Give me a break, will ya?  My face is water-logged.

 
 
 
Kavika
7.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom @7    2 weeks ago
And by the way, this is the third time in as many weeks that I've been a blubbering fool after reading on of your contributions. Give me a break, will ya?  My face is water-logged.

I can always depend on you to get me to laugh out loud.

Thanks for commenting, Sister.

 
 
 
Ender
8  Ender    2 weeks ago

Looks very peaceful. 

 
 
 
Kavika
8.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Ender @8    2 weeks ago

I'm hopeful that by next year I can confirm that for you Ender.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
9  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

tribute to Ira Hayes

nativevets05.jpg?uuid=aJxZVOUGEeeSeucurB5ztg

Gus-Palmer-and-Horace-Poolaw-500x380.jpg

Gus Palmer (at left) and Horace Poolaw (Kiowa) in front of a Flying Fortress 1944

e0227d10d4de0ed3252e16d90a9dafb6.jpg

Harvey Pratt, the designer whose concept was selected to create the Smithsonian’s National Native American Veterans Memorial for the National Museum of the American Indian was a Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal member. Da Nang, Vietnam.

 
 
 
Kavika
9.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  JohnRussell @9    2 weeks ago

Thanks for posting this, JR.

 
 
 
pat wilson
10  pat wilson    2 weeks ago

Good on the Smithsonian, and as others have noted, way over-due.

 
 
 
Kavika
10.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  pat wilson @10    2 weeks ago

It was all done with private funds, no fed/taxpayer money pat.

 
 
 
pat wilson
10.1.1  pat wilson  replied to  Kavika @10.1    2 weeks ago

Is the Smithsonian run on private funds ?

 
 
 
Kavika
10.1.2  seeder  Kavika   replied to  pat wilson @10.1.1    2 weeks ago
Is the Smithsonian run on private funds ?

The Smithsonian is a private and government-funded entity. This project is purely privately funded no government funds at all were used creating it. 

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
11  Perrie Halpern R.A.    2 weeks ago

This has been a long time in the coming and the I am proud to say that my family has been a part of this project. The video is truly moving. I can't wait to share it with Big Chief. I don't think he knows about it. 

It is a shame that the opening was postponed, but I am hopeful that we will be able to be there with dad. 

Thanks for posting this Kavika. I don't know how I missed it earlier. 

 
 
 
Kavika
11.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @11    2 weeks ago
Is the Smithsonian run on private funds ?

I'm sure that Big Chief will be overjoyed with the video and more so when he visits in person.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
12  Raven Wing    2 weeks ago

This is indeed a wonderful tribute to our Native American Veterans. It is beautiful, very Spiritual, and speaks many languages.

I visited the Native American Museum several times when I lived in No Virginia. The Town of Warrenton is only about a 45 minute drive to downtown D.C. The museum is not only filled with many wonderful artifacts, pictures, paintings, arts and crafts of Tribes across America, it also has a awesome cafeteria in the building that serves food dishes from the various Tribes, which gives people an opportunity to have a taste of Native American food. And it is delicious. I had to eat there every time I went, and sampled dishes from the different sections of the cafeteria that represented the different Tribes. 

There are several things there that really piqued my interest, here are a couple;

384

384

The grounds are beautiful, and now with the Native Americans Veterans own area, it is truly awesome that they are finally being recognized as they should be.

 
 
 
Kavika
12.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Raven Wing @12    2 weeks ago

The cafeteria is said to have some of the best food in D.C. 

Great photos RW, thanks for posting them here.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
12.1.1  Raven Wing  replied to  Kavika @12.1    2 weeks ago

Thanks Kavika, and you are most welcome. The surrounding grounds of the museum are beautiful as well. 

 
 
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