The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian recently announced the winning proposal for the long overdue National Native American Veterans Memorial. Commissioned by Congress and proposed for the National Mall in Washington D.C., the memorial honors the Native Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and aims to educate the broader American public about their service throughout history.
After consulting with Native American communities and veterans, the NMAI launched a two-stage international competition to find the winning proposal. The jury unanimously selected “Warriors’ Circle of Honor” by Harvey Pratt, a Cheyenne and Arapaho Marine Corps Veteran and a recently retired forensic artist for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Pratt's design concept is “a multisensory memorial” that features an “elevated stainless steel circle that rests on an intricately carved stone drum”. His design will now undergo further development in partnership with the museum. The memorial is currently slated for a groundbreaking on September 21, 2019 and a late 2020 opening date.
“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 NMAI Director Kevin Gover in a statement. “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.”
You can listen to Pratt and his project partner Hans Butzer describe the design in more detail in the video below.
The competition jury included:
- Larry Ulaaq Ahvakana (Inupiaq), artist, Ahvakana Fine Art
- Stephanie Birdwell (Cherokee), director, Veterans Affairs, Office of Tribal Government Relations
- Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director emerita, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art
- Edwin Fountain, general counsel, American Battle Monuments Commission
- Mark Kawika McKeague (Native Hawaiian), director of Cultural Planning, Group 70 International Inc.
- Brian McCormack (Nez Perce) Principal Landscape Architect, McCormack Landscape Architecture
- Lillian Pitt (Wasco/Yakima/Warm Springs), artist
- Herman Viola, curator emeritus, Smithsonian
- Kevin Gover (Pawnee), alternate juror, director of the National Museum of the American Indian
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