We are a nation of patriots

We honor those who devote themselves to defending our nation, yet many Americans are unaware of the exceptional military service performed by Native Americans. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is leading the charge to recognize their dedication and sacrifice.

As commissioned by Congress, the museum will establish a National Native American Veterans Memorial on its grounds, in the heart of Washington, DC. Situated on the National Mall, a place that draws nearly 24 million visitors annually, the memorial will honor American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian veterans and symbolize the country’s respect for Native Americans’ service and patriotism.


 
The Native American Women Warriors
The Native American Women Warriors lead the grand entry during a powwow in Pueblo, Colorado, June 14, 2014. From left: Sergeant First Class Mitchelene BigMan (Apsáalooke [Crow]/Hidatsa), Sergeant Lisa Marshall (Cheyenne River Sioux), Specialist Krissy Quinones (Apsáalooke [Crow]), and Captain Calley Cloud (Apsáalooke [Crow]), with Tia Cyrus (Apsáalooke [Crow]) behind them. The organization, founded by Mitchelene BigMan in 2012, raises awareness about Native American women veterans and provides support services in health, employment, and education. Photo by Nicole Tung

The Memorial

An elevated stainless steel circle balanced on an intricately carved stone drum, the design is simple and powerful, timeless and inclusive. The design incorporates 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 and healing.

Harvey Pratt’s design for the National Native American Veterans Memorial creates an interactive yet intimate space for gathering, remembrance, reflection, and healing. It will welcome and honor Native American veterans and their families, and educate the public about their extraordinary contributions.

When the memorial is unveiled at its dedication ceremony in November 2020, the country will recognize—for the first time on a national scale—the enduring and distinguished service of Native Americans in every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. This memorial carries the heavy responsibility of respectfully acknowledging American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian veterans; raising awareness of their service across generations; and reminding all Americans of our national obligation to honor this inspired legacy.

Meet Harvey Pratt
Final Design Presentation
A Letter from Museum Director Kevin Gover (Pawnee)


 
National Native American Veterans Memorial design by Harvey Pratt
National Native American Veterans Memorial. Design by Harvey Pratt, illustration by Skyline Ink, courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.

The Competition

More than 120 proposals from across the globe were submitted for the memorial’s design competition, launched in November 2017. In early 2018, eight distinguished jurors selected five concepts by six finalists (James Dinh, the team of Dan Jones and Kelly Haney, Harvey Pratt, Stefanie Rocknak, and Leroy Transfield). Later in June, the competition concluded when the jury unanimously selected Harvey Pratt’s design, which he titled Warriors’ Circle of Honor.

See the finalists’ designs.
Read the design competition manual and meet the jurors.
Read the jury report.

The design goals for the memorial grew out of an extensive outreach and consultation process. Beginning in 2015, the museum worked with the National Congress of American Indians and other Native organizations to create an advisory committee composed of tribal leaders, Native veterans, and their family members to assist with outreach to Native American communities and veterans. The museum and advisory committee conducted 35 community consultations across the nation to seek input and support for the memorial. These events resulted in a shared vision and set of design principles that informed the competition.


 
competition timeline

This is a tremendously important effort to recognize Native Americans’ service to this nation. We have so much to celebrate. Like so many others, I was compelled to serve to honor the warrior tradition that is inherent to most Native American societies—the pillars of strength honor, pride, devotion, and wisdom.

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell

Meet the Advisory Committee

Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell
Northern Cheyenne
Colorado
AIR FORCE, KOREA

Lieutenant Governor Jefferson Keel
Chickasaw Nation
Oklahoma
ARMY, VIETNAM

Advisory Committee

Read the Consultation Report

Mark Azure

Ft. Belknap, Assiniboine
Montana
Army

Mitchelene BigMan

Crow/Hidatsa
Colorado
Army, Iraq
President and Founder of Native American Women Warriors

Kurt V. BlueDog

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate
Minnesota
Army

Johancharles “Chuck” Boers

Lipan Apache
California
Army, Iraq
Lipan Apache War Chief

Stephen D. Bowers

Seminole Tribe of Florida
Florida
Army, Vietnam

Chairman
Kevin P. Brown

Mohegan Tribe
Connecticut
Army, Iraq

James Chastain Sr.

Lumbee
Georgia
Army, Vietnam

Debora Coxe

Chippewa
Michigan
Gold Star Mother

Deputy Principal Chief
S. Joe Crittenden

Cherokee Nation
Oklahoma
Navy, Vietnam

Gerald L. Danforth Sr.

Oneida Nation
Wisconsin
Navy, Vietnam and Iraq

Colonel Wayne Don

Cup‘ig/Yup‘ik
Alaska
Army, Alaska Army National Guard

John Emhoolah

Kiowa
Colorado
Army, Korea
Black Leggings Society

Anthony J. Foerster

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
Michigan
Marine Corps, Army

Marshall Gover

Pawnee
Oklahoma
Marine Corps, Vietnam

Gary Hayes

Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
Colorado
Navy

Manaja Hill

Standing Rock Sioux
South Dakota
Army

Allen K. Hoe

Native Hawaiian
Hawai‘i
Army, Vietnam, Gold Star Father

Rear Admiral Michael L. Holmes, Retired

Lumbee
North Carolina
Navy

Judge Sharon House

Oneida
Wisconsin
Military Family

Earl Howe III

Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Army

Lee Gordon McLester III

Oneida Nation
Wisconsin
Marine Corps Reserves

Chairman Arlan D. Melendez

Reno Sparks Indian Colony
Nevada
Marine Corps, Vietnam

Debra Kay Mooney

Choctaw
Oklahoma
Army, Iraq

Nancy Tsoodle Moser

Kiowa
Oklahoma
Military Family, Coast Guard Civilian

Elaine Peters

Ak-Chin
Arizona
Marine Corps

Principal Chief
Richard Sneed

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
North Carolina
Marine Corps