In today’s military, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians serve at one of the highest rates per capita of all population groups. Few outside the military and Native nations know that Native people have served in the U.S. Armed Forces since the American Revolution and continue to do so.
Today’s military successes depend heavily on Native Americans:
These veterans are Purple Heart recipients, Bronze Star honorees, and a few have been recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest military award of the United States.
** Statistics sourced from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs 2017 report.
The Vietnam experience was an important part of my life. It led to twenty years of service in the army and countless leadership opportunities.
Jefferson Keel (Chickasaw)
Lieutenant Governor of the Chickasaw Nation
Co-Chair of the National Native American Veterans Memorial Advisory Committee
Keel is one of 42,000 Native Americans who served in the Vietnam War. He earned a Bronze Star with valor, two Purple Hearts, and numerous other awards for his heroism.
Spreading the Word Across America
The effort to honor Native Americans’ past and present service to our country will extend far beyond the physical National Native American Veterans Memorial. The museum also will share stories of Native American servicemen and women through aligned projects:
Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces
Why We Serve
The upcoming commemorative publication to the memorial’s dedication, Why We Serve details the history of more than 250 years of Native American participation in the military, from colonial times to the present day. Expected publication in Fall 2020.
A Vital Oral History Project
The museum is collaborating with the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress to collect, preserve, and make accessible the oral histories of Native American veterans. The oral history project records veterans’ stories in their own voices so that family and community members, researchers, the broader public, universities, museums, and others can learn from them for generations to come.