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.
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.
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.
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.
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
President and Founder of Native American Women Warriors
Kurt V. BlueDog
Johancharles “Chuck” Boers
Lipan Apache War Chief
Stephen D. Bowers
Kevin P. Brown
James Chastain Sr.
S. Joe Crittenden
Gerald L. Danforth Sr.
Colonel Wayne Don
Black Leggings Society