We are a nation of patriots

Though we celebrate those who dedicate themselves to defending our nation, many Americans are unaware of the exceptional service performed by Native American veterans.

Taking up the charge given by Congress, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) will establish a National Native American Veterans Memorial in the heart of Washington, DC. When the memorial is unveiled, we will recognize for the first time on a national scale the enduring and distinguished service of Native Americans in every branch of the U.S. armed forces.


The Native American Women Warriors
The Native American Women Warriors lead the grand entry during a powwow in Pueblo, Colorado, June 14, 2014. From left: Sergeant First Class Mitchelene BigMan (Apsáalooke [Crow]/Hidatsa), Sergeant Lisa Marshall (Cheyenne River Sioux), Specialist Krissy Quinones (Apsáalooke [Crow]), and Captain Calley Cloud (Apsáalooke [Crow]), with Tia Cyrus (Apsáalooke [Crow]) behind them. The organization, founded by Mitchelene BigMan in 2012, raises awareness about Native American women veterans and provides support services in health, employment, and education. Photo by Nicole Tung

The Memorial

This permanent veterans memorial on the nation’s preeminent stage—the National Mall—will shed light on the countless Native American warriors who have given so much of themselves throughout history, and who continue to defend our nation today.

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Overlooking the United States Capitol Building
Looking east towards the U.S. Capitol from the museum's croplands, 2004. © Maxwell MacKenzie

Our Heroes

Native Americans have participated in every major U.S. military encounter from the Revolutionary War through today’s conflicts in the Middle East. Contributions by Native Americans have saved lives, enabled our country’s victories, and exemplified the courage that defines American patriotism. Yet they remain unrecognized by any prominent landmark in our nation’s capital.

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Eagle-feather war bonnets adorn U.S. military uniform jackets
Eagle-feather war bonnets adorn U.S. military uniform jackets at a Ton-Kon-Gah (Black Leggings Society) ceremonial, held annually to honor Kiowa tribal veterans. Near Anadarko, Oklahoma, 2006. National Museum of the American Indian

We invite you to participate in this historic moment—for our country, for veterans, and for the Native American communities whose loyalty and passion have helped make America what it is today.

Kevin Gover (Pawnee)

Director, National Museum of the American Indian