Smithsonian’s National Native American Veterans Memorial

Native American Veterans applaud new memorial

July 17, 2018 - 11:17 am

By Elle Meyers, special to 

For Vietnam Veteran Lanny Asepermy, the newly announced Smithsonian’s National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC is a long time coming. A member of the Comanche Tribe, Asepermy served in the Army for 24 years, retiring as a Sergeant Major. Asepermy explains that he is proud of the new memorial and looking forward to seeing it unveiled in 2020.

“I’m honored that they finally got one up for Native Americans,” says Asepermy.

Native Americans have served in the U.S Armed Forces since the Revolutionary War, in which they often worked as auxiliary troops and scouts. In past wars, such as World War II, Native American service members used their native languages as coded messages, working as cryptologists to encode information. According to the VA, since 9/11 Native American Indians have served in the military at a higher rate than other demographic.

The memorial is titled “Warriors’ Circle of Honor” and was designed by Marine Corp Veteran Harvey Pratt who is Cheyenne and Arapaho.  He explains the site will be shaped like a stone drum and will include water and the recordings of traditional songs and chants of confederated tribes from all over the United States.

“Drums are used to call people together, when you hear the drum it’s kind of like a reverberating telling people to come to the drum,” says Pratt of the design. “I wanted to have a drum in there that would call people to this memorial.”

Asepermy explains that it can be difficult to design a tribute that includes all the Native American Indian tribes. “It’s hard to come up with a memorial because there are so many different tribes. You can’t have a statue of an Indian because back in the day every tribe’s warriors wore different attire, different looks. The Apaches looked a certain way the Comanches looked a certain way, all of them.”

The project has been in the works since 2015 when the design competition began. Pratt’s work was chosen out of 413 submissions.

“It’s a big honor for people to join the military and defend this country,” says Pratt. “In my mind this country will always be Indian country and it’s something to fight for.” The memorial is set to break ground in September of this year.