This article includes excerpts from the press release issued by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, which is available here. 

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 titled, “Warriors’ Circle of Honor.” Groundbreaking for the memorial is slated for September 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, 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.”

Photo of Harvey Pratt

Harvey Pratt, the designer whose concept was selected to create the Smithsonian’s National Native American Veterans Memorial for the National Museum of the American Indian is a Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal member. He is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran who served in Vietnam. Photo by Neil Chapman, courtesy of Harvey Pratt

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, who is Cheyenne and Arapaho, is a multimedia artist and recently retired forensic artist, as well as a Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran. His design concept is a multisensory 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.

VA’s director of tribal government relations, Stephanie Birdwell, was a juror on the panel selecting the final design.

“The National Native American Veterans Memorial is both personally and professionally meaningful to me as the daughter, granddaughter and niece of Native American Veterans,” Birdwell shared.  “In my professional role with VA, I’ve been fortunate to meet, serve and work with Native American Veterans from across the country and I understand how important this memorial is to the Veterans, their families and to our country.

Congress commissioned the museum to build a 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.”

“This memorial will be an enduring tribute to the sacrifice, service, stories and experiences of Native American Veterans,” Birdwell said. “As jurors, we carefully reviewed a competitive applicant pool of design submissions and by unanimous consent, agreed that Harvey Pratt’s design will achieve these goals and will serve to honor the generations of Native American men and women who served our country in the past, present and future.”

About the National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present and future—through partnership with Native people and others. To learn more about the museum’s mission, visit

This article includes excerpts from the press release issued by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, which is available here. 

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Published on Jun. 28, 2018

Estimated reading time is 3.2 min.

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  1. De July 27, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Having researched for a book, I was surprised to find that native American people served in WW1 for a country which had made a “land grab” on some of their property and traditional lands and then “encouraged” them to live in reservations where they were subject to annual census. They were forced into the draft process and trained to fight for America against an enemy they had never seen or heard of in Europe and other battle areas.
    One I researched was Joseph Sherman, from the Sioux tribe living on Devils Lake Reservation in N. Dakota. He had travelled across the Atlantic Ocean with B Company of the 58th Infantry Regiment to England and was hours from landing when his ship was torpedoed and sank. He died instantly – a huge debt is owed to the people by not just the US but also their Allies in Europe.

    The Native American Veterans Memorial will be a fitting memory to honour these people – well done!

  2. Joe Gomez June 30, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    I am “Dine”, Athabaskan, my People has served as Brave and Honorable Warriors in the defense of our land.

    This National Native American Veterans Memorial acknowledges the Fine Traditions our People have served and will serve.

    We are First Nation People, Native American’s, acknowledge that.

    We are not; indians, american indians or apaches, the names given to us by our enemies.

    We are First Nation People, Native American’s, we serve with Honor and Pride.

  3. Parker C. Ferguson June 30, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    George L McDonald from Oklahoma –nick name–“CHIEF”–I served with you with the Survey Platoon,569th Engineer Company (TOPO). We were TDF most our tour.

  4. John Long June 30, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    I agree this is an awesome honor, long overdue and richly deserved. I am already concerned about the other minority of culture that is going around the country tearing down or forcing the removal of other memorials with historical importance..

  5. David Chevess June 30, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Every day I am humbled to learn a little more about the contributions and sacrifice of indigenous and native peoples throughout our American nation.

  6. Laurence Charles McNeill June 30, 2018 at 6:12 am

    Finally a tribute to the TRUE Americans who we stole the Country from. We owe them a hell of a lot more. The promises made to them that were broken need to be addressed. The Indians deserve to have them promises broken repaired. Give them back their land. they were removed from. We give the illegal immigrants more than the Indians which is wrong and an insult to our Country. Time we the people woke up!!! God Bless the American Indians.

  7. Harry Penders June 29, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    Very good news and about time they were honored by their country. I’ve seen many roads to Vietnam Veterans esp. in the West but none that I know of, honoring Native Americans. They were some of the best guys I ever met in the Navy.

  8. Harvey Smith June 29, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    I served in VN during 1969. During that time never did I wonder what the back ground of my guys were. I don’t think anybody cared if you had Italian, Polish, French or Native American Blood in you. We were one. Now to single out Native Americans I believe is wrong. There is already a monument to Native Americans and to there brothers that served together, The Wall.

  9. Kevin C. Bailey June 29, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    Yes, it is about time that us Native Americans get the recognition that we deserve for defending the United States. We do so because we love this land and wouldn’t want anymore peoples to invade it again. My Father served proudly during the Korean War and was wounded severely. I served on two different occasions. Once during Viet Nam and again in the ’80s. My Grandmother was Cherokee as was my Father, Myself and my children. Although I’m not a full blood, I still am proud to be a descendant of the Great Cherokee Peoples.

  10. Bernard C. Menge June 29, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you for finally recognizing my ancestral family.

  11. Paul (Swampfox) McConnell June 29, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    It is about time that the People of all tribal nations are honored in this country.

  12. Rodney Yen Hing Wong June 29, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Does this includes the native Hawaiian tribe and extended family?

    • David Chevess June 30, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      Every day I am humbled to learn a little more about the contributions and sacrifice of indigenous and native peoples throughout our American nation.

  13. Arnold Hauswald June 29, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Long overdue formal recognition. This is good.

  14. Louis H Drescher June 29, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    thank you for this will deserve memorial. Both my brother-in-laws (Chickasaw) Leo and KC Parks served in Viet Nam, Leo has passed and had received this Silver Star. KC was a marine and still doing his best. Both served bravely and I am proud to call them brother.

    regards, Sgt Louis H Drescher 3rd 32nd Amour

  15. Shahid Raki June 29, 2018 at 11:05 am

    Here’s another piece of history recognition that’s well past overdue. This land is theirs and yet they’re the last ones to be recognized for their service to this country that’s been stolen from them for centuries.

  16. Don Morgan June 29, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Long overdue, glad to see this come to reality. Many Native Americans have served honorably without recognition. I proudly served with some of them.

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