The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has been charged by Congress with building a National Native American Veterans Memorial to give “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,” according to a press release issued by the NMAI on Monday.
Working with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and other Native American organizations, the museum has begun preliminary plans to construct this memorial in the next four years.
The Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Northern Cheyenne) and Chickasaw Nation Lieutenant Governor Jefferson Keel are leading an advisory committee of tribal leaders and veterans.
A statement from the NMAI outlines a substantial reason for creating such a memorial:
“The service and sacrifice of Native American veterans spans nearly two and a half centuries of American History. American Indians have served in the U.S. Armed Forces in every major conflict since the Revolutionary War and in greater numbers per capita than any other ethnic group-facts unknown to many Americans.
“During World War II, over 44,000 Native Americans served in the U.S. military. Hundreds of Navajo, Comanche and other Native language speakers-Code Talker-played a crucial role. More than 42,000 Native American served during the Vietnam War as well. Today, the U.S. Department of Defense estimates more than 24,000 American Indian and Alaska Native men and women are on active duty, and more that 150,000 veterans self-identity as American Indian or Alaska Native.”
As part of its fundraising efforts, the NMAI will celebrate its Native Nations Inaugural Ball on On January 20, 2017. Funds raised for the Ball will support the National Native American Veterans Memorial.
According to the NMAI, a design for the memorial will be selected in a juried competition. The National Native American Veterans Memorial will be located prominently on the NMAI’s grounds on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.,, between the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol to honor the immense contributions of Native Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces.
To learn for about the National Native American Veterans Memorial please visit http://nmai.si.edu/support/national-native-american-veterans-memorial/
For more information on the Native Nations Inaugural Ball, please email SupportNMAI@si.edu.