Jason Salsman/Multimedia Producer
Cheyenne-Arapaho artist’s Warriors’ Circle of Honor to be unveiled in 2020
WASHINGTON — The design process and selection of the winning entry for the National Native American Veterans Memorial has come full circle.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian announced the winner, Oklahoma Cheyenne and Arapaho artist Harvey Pratt’s ‘Warriors’ Circle of Honor’ concept June 26 in a morning ceremony at NMAI.
Pratt was a finalist along with two other Oklahoma Native artists, Ponca Nation citizen Dan SaSuWeh Jones and Seminole Nation citizen Enoch Kelly Haney.
Pratt’s winning design will feature a large stainless steel circle above a stone drum that will be the centerpiece of a circular walkway that will include carvings of the five military seals.
Smithsonian.com reported that Pratt’s use of circles suggest, “the cycle of life and death, and the continuity of all things.” The stone drum, it adds, symbolizes an invitation for people to “harmonize their experiences” with one another to the “silent rhythms” of the drumbeat.
Pratt, not only a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes but also a veteran himself of the U.S. Marine Corps having served in the Vietnam War from 1962-1965, spoke with NPR about how he hoped it would be a place of healing for veterans.
“Most nations have veterans tell stories about what they did,” Pratt said. “People can come in there and do that and be comforted, and get rid of some things that are on their minds that bother them. I want it to be a place of healing and comfort, and a place that’s hopefully going to be built on love.”
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, there are more than 20,000 active duty service members in the military who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native.
NMAI Director and Oklahoma Pawnee Nation citizen Kevin Gover said in a Smithsonian press release that the planning process has led to his having a dialogue with several Native veterans that affirm their commitments to having served as well as those still doing so today.
“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,” Gover said. “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.”
The memorial, to be located on the National Mall, will break ground Sept. 21, 2019, and will be unveiled in late 2020.