Author: Jessica Gregory
On this Veterans Day, a memorial honoring Native American service members was added to the National Mall in Washington D.C.
The National Native American Veterans Memorial was authorized by Congress in 2013 and finally has its grand opening to the public today. Seated at the foot of Capitol Hill, the memorial is a steel-shaped ring hanging over a stone carved drum surrounded by a circle of benches. Designed by veteran Harvey Pratt of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, it’s shape is accomodating to water for ceremonies that will take place there.
Kevin Grover, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, says in an interview with NPR that the memorial will become a sacred ground for Native peoples through the memories and prayers they bring to it.
A 17 minute-long virtual program introducing and honoring the new memorial is displayed on the Smithsonian’s website for the National Museum of the American Indian.
Veteran Sandra Tiger of the Cherokee and Seminole people is featured in the memorial’s program video.
“For centuries American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians have fought to preserve their lands, cultures, and families,” Sandra Tiger said. “We have continued that tradition into the 21st century and will into the future.”
The National Native American Veterans Memorial can now be accessed by all for free and is open 24 hours a day. Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is free but a timed-entry pass is required.
November gained recognition as Native American Heritage month in 2018. On the UW-Madison campus, organization Wunk Sheek and partners are hosting virtual events to celebrate. A full list of upcoming speakers and activities can be found here.
Wunk Sheek can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.