National Native American Veterans Memorial

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has been charged by Congress with establishing 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.”

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The Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Northern Cheyenne) and Chickasaw Nation Lieutenant Governor Jefferson Keel are leading an advisory committee of tribal leaders and veterans representing the geographic diversity of Native America and the various branches of the Armed Forces. The committee is assisting with outreach to Native American nations and tribes and their veterans and advising on plans for the memorial.

From 2015 until the summer of 2017, the advisory committee and the museum conducted thirty-five community consultations to seek input and support for the memorial. These events brought together tribal leaders, Native veterans, and community members from across the nation, and resulted in a shared vision and set of design principles for the National Native American Veterans Memorial.

A traveling banner exhibition, Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces, tells the stories of American Indian veterans as well as the museum’s plans to build the memorial. This exhibition, made possible with support from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, is traveling to tribal centers, museums, and libraries.

A design for the memorial will be selected through a juried, two-stage international design competition that opens on Veterans Day 2017. The National Native American Veterans Memorial will be located prominently on the NMAI’s grounds on the National Mall, between the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol. The anticipated dedication of this tribute to Native American heroes will be on Veterans Day 2020.