The First-Ever National Memorial for Native American Veterans Graces Washington, D.C.

The first national monument dedicated to Native veterans is the shape of the circle, holding special significance to many Native American traditions in dance, storytelling, and prayer.

An overdue memorial dedicated to Native American veterans, now open in Washington, DC, marks a major step forward in recognizing their service. According to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Native Americans serve in the U.S. armed forces more than any other ethnic group. As a collective, they have served in every major military tangle since the Revolutionary War, yet their efforts have gone largely unnoticed—until now.

Located a stone’s throw from the National Museum of the American Indian, the memorial overlooks a freshwater landscape adjacent to the National Mall. Harvey Pratt, a member of Oklahoma’s Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, designed the 12-foot-tall stainless steel ring. Postured on a carved stone drum, the sculpture’s shape holds special significance to many Native American cultures, symbolizing traditions in dance, storytelling, and prayer. The monument is an emblem for reverence, as visitors are encouraged to leave prayer ties—a symbol of spirituality—on four vertical lances.

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