Native American Mall Memorial
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Native Americans have a longstanding tradition in serving in the American military system. Are you surprised? Given the history between the two groups, it’s understandable why you might be. The number of Native Americans who have served in the United States military is actually higher per capita rate than any other ethnic group. They have served since the Revolutionary War. Patriotism is a trait that is passed down through the generations with the Native American community. The National Museum of the American Indian is the planned site for a memorial honoring Native American veterans.

Rebecca Trautmann, is the project curator of the National Native American Veterans Memorial. She states that …many see their patriotism, as inextricably connected with the land itself, … “They have described an inherited responsibility to protect their homeland, their families, their communities and their traditional way of life,” she said. It’s incredibly important for those who are non Native Americans to realize and understand the significance of their actions. Debra Kay Mooney, a Choctaw who is a veteran of the Iraq War, puts it this way: “Our ancestors are the very groundwork of the United States because we died here first. It’s our ancestors’ bones and marrow that has degraded into the ground that is actually in the roots and the tops of the tallest trees. . . . We needed to protect our ancestors’ bones.” And that is something anyone should understand as heritage and family are two motivators to get things done, especially if it’s to honor a lost family member.

Over 31,000 Native American men and women are on active duty, and more than 140,000 veterans identify as Native Americans or Alaska Natives. Typically, they are celebrated in their own communities, with ceremonies and warrior societies that help them when they return from service.

The memorial is something to behold. Although the funding has been approved for decades, it will not be available to peruse until Veterans Day 2020. The memorial must “encompass the vast array of tribes (567 are federally recognized) yet specific enough that veterans and their families will recognize themselves and their stories.” It also must include the spiritual realm to some extent and to include women.

Those who are in committees honoring Native Americans and our military have been very happy about what is to come for their communities. From the monument actually being constructed, to respecting those who fought and lost their lives, to maintaining history, this truly is something that will be amazing to witness firsthand.

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