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Smithsonian’s National Native American Veterans Memorial design selected

The winning design of the National Native American Veterans Memorial, set to open in 2020. (Courtesy NMAI)

The jury for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian National Native American Veterans Memorial has unanimously selected the design concept submitted by Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne/Arapaho) titled “Warriors’ Circle of Honor.” Groundbreaking for the memorial is slated for Sept. 21, 2019. It is slated to open late 2020.

“Through meeting thousands of Native American veterans, I learned most of all about the commitment these veterans have to the well-being of the United States,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the museum. “These veterans are perfectly aware that they are serving a country that had not kept its commitments to Native people, and yet they chose – and are still choosing – to serve. This reflects a very deep kind of patriotism. I can think of no finer example of service to the United States and the promise it holds.”

Native Americans serve at a higher rate per capita than any other population group. Few outside the military and American Indian Nations know that Native people have served in the U.S. armed forces since the American Revolution and continue to serve today. The nation’s capital is known for its grand monuments and solemn memorials, including many honoring the nation’s veterans. Yet no national landmark in Washington, D.C., focuses on the contributions of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians who have served in the military since colonial times.

Pratt is a multimedia artist and recently retired forensic artist, as well as a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran. His design concept is a multi-sensory memorial. An elevated stainless steel circle rests on an intricately carved stone drum. Listen to Pratt describe his design concept in detail. The selected design will undergo further development in partnership with the museum.

Congress commissioned the museum to build a National Native American Veterans Memorial that gives “all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service of Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States.”

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 from across the country who assisted with outreach to Native American communities and veterans. The advisory committee and the museum 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 for the National Native American Veterans Memorial.

The National Museum of the American Indian conducted an international competition to select design concepts for the National Native American Veterans Memorial. Don Stastny, an architect and urban designer, oversaw the competition. The design was selected through a juried, two-stage process.

For more information about the memorial, go to the National Museum of the American Indian’s website.

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