2018-02-14 / More News

Finalists present designs for National Native American Veterans Memorial

WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian hosted the finalists, James Dinh, Daniel SaSu- Weh Jones (Ponca) and Enoch Kelly Haney (Seminole), Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne/ Arapaho), Stefanie Rocknak, and Leroy Transfield (Maori: Ngai Tahu/ Ngati Toa), who will advance to the second stage of the National Native American Veterans Memorial design competition.

The five finalists—chosen from a pool of 120 completed submissions—shared their vision for the memorial and presented their initial design concepts at “Meet Your Designers,” a public event held at the museum this afternoon. Each had 15 minutes to introduce themselves, explain why they entered the competition and describe their concept-designs. At the event Kevin Gover, director of the museum, spoke of the gravity of the responsibility to design a national memorial to Native American veterans. Native Americans have served in every American conflict since the Revolution and have served at a higher rate per capita than any other group throughout the 20th century. Gover, with an Advisory Committee consulted Native American veterans throughout the United States to learn what is important to them in a memorial. “Most important is their pride in what they have done and their commitment to the wellbeing of the United States,” said Gover. “To realize that these men and women served well a country that had not kept its commitments to their communities over its history. They are perfectly aware of it, and yet they chose to serve. And to me that reflects a very deep kind of patriotism. A belief in the promises of a country that had not kept its promises to them up to that time. I can think of no finer example of being Americans than the way these men and women chose to serve over those years.”

The finalists will have until May 1 to evolve and refine their design concepts to a level that fully explains the spatial, material and symbolic attributes of the design and how it responds to the vision and design principles for the National Native American Veterans Memorial. The final design concepts for Stage II will be exhibited at both the Washington, D.C., and New York museums May 19 through June 3. The museum’s blue-ribbon jury of Native and non-Native artists, designers and scholars will judge the final design concepts and announce a winner July 4.

The memorial is slated to open in 2020 on the grounds of the museum.

This project is made possible by the generous support of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Bank of America, Northrop Grumman, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker LLP, General Motors, Lee Ann and Marshall Hunt, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Sullivan Insurance Agency of Oklahoma.

The museum was commissioned by Congress to build a National Native American Veterans Memorial that gives “all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service by Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States.” Working with the National Congress of American Indians and other Native American organizations, the museum is in its third year of planning for the memorial. To help guide this process, the museum formed an advisory committee composed of tribal leaders and Native veterans from across the country who have assisted with outreach to Native American communities and veterans. From 2015 until the summer of 2017, the advisory committee and the museum conducted 35 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. For more information about the memorial, visit www.AmericanIndian.

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