Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian Celebrates Native Veterans With a Weekend of Activities Nov. 12 and 13

Events Coincide With the Dedication of the National Native American Veterans Memorial
November 3, 2022
News Release

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Exterior of National Museum of the American Indian and its veterans memorial

The National Native American Veterans Memorial, November 2020, On the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Designed by Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes). Photo by Alan Karchmer for the National Museum of the American Indian

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian celebrates the dedication of the National Native American Veterans Memorial Nov. 12 and 13 with a weekend of special programming that highlights the service and sacrifice of Native veterans and their families. 

More information about the memorial and the weekend’s activities can be found on the museum’s website.

Event Schedule: Saturday, Nov. 12, and Sunday, Nov. 13

Veterans Hospitality Suite 
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Patrons Lounge (fourth floor)
Hospitality area with seating and light refreshments provided for veterans. 

Veterans Affairs, Office of Tribal Government Relations
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Fourth Floor 
Veterans can connect with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Tribal Government Relations.

Library of Congress, Veterans History Project
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Fourth Floor 
Visitors can meet with staff of the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project for information about collecting and preserving oral histories of Native veterans. They can pick up a field kit to learn about interviewing Native veterans or view a sample of a Native veteran’s oral history. 

Event Schedule: Saturday, Nov. 12

Meet the Memorial Designer
Noon to 1 p.m. 
Rasmuson Theater (first floor)
Join designer Harvey Pratt and curator Rebecca Trautmann for a discussion about the design process and creation of the memorial. 

Music and Cultural Performances 
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Potomac Atrium (first floor) 

  • 10 a.m.: Start of Program: Shawn Martinez (Diné), aka DJ Tribal Touch 
  • 10:15 to 10:30 a.m.: Presentation of Colors Native American Women Warriors (Intertribal) 
  • 10:30 to 11 a.m.: Charly Lowry (Lumbee/Tuscarora) and Alexis Raeana (Lumbee) 
  • 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.: The Aloha Boys (Native Hawaiian) 
  • Noon to 12:30 p.m.: Wade Fernandez (Menominee) 
  • 12:45 to 1:15 p.m.: DDAT (Navajo) 
  • 1:30 to 2 p.m.: Morongo Bird Singers (Morongo Band of Mission Indians) 
  • 2:15 to 2:45 p.m.: Spencer Battiest (Seminole of Florida) 
  • 3 to 3:30 p.m.: Akwesasne Women Singers (Mohawk) 
  • 3:45 to 4:15 p.m.: Innastate (Various Pueblos) 
  • 4:30 to 5 p.m.: Keith Secola (Ojibwe) 

Films 
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Rasmuson Theater (first floor)

Film Shorts Series (60 min.); 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Cree Code Talkers (Canada, 2016, 13 min.)
Director: Alexandra Lazarowich (Cree) 
English and Cree with English subtitles 
The true story of Charles “Checker” Tomkins’ involvement with the U.S. Air Force in developing the code talkers’ communication system, which transmitted crucial military communications using the Cree language.

Gene Boy Came Home (Canada, 2007, 24 min.) 
Director: Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki)
A documentary portrait of Eugene “Gene Boy” (pronounced Genie Boy) Benedict, from Odanak Indian Reserve (near Montreal) who, at 17, enlisted in the U.S. Marines and was sent to the front lines of the Vietnam War. This film is the account of his two years of service and his long journey back to Odanak.

A History of Service (Auburn Vet) (USA, 2018, 4 min.) 
Director: Tracy Rector 
Native Americans serve in the U.S. Armed Forces at a higher rate in proportion to their population than any other ethnic group. This film explores the warrior tradition and the exemplary record of service among the United Auburn Indian Community of California.

Ka Ho’i (The Return) (USA, 2021, 20 min.) 
Director: Mitchell Viernes
Writer/Producer: Lopaka Kapanui (Kanaka Maoli)
An aging Hawaiian war veteran grapples with the nightmares of his past and the even scarier thought of being forgotten. One night, he hears a familiar voice calling him from the beach. What he encounters is beyond anything he could have imagined.

Feature Film; 3 p.m.

Navajo Code Talkers: A Journey of Remembrance (USA, 2017, 70 min.) 
Director: George A. Colburn 
The film follows the return of six Navajo code talkers to the five Pacific Island sites where their unbreakable secret code, based on the unwritten Navajo language, helped U.S. forces overcome Japanese expansion in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

Hands-on Activities
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Various Locations

Veteran Profiles
10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. 
Fourth Floor Overlook 
Participants can learn more about Native veterans who have served throughout history at this teaching cart and take home a bookmark featuring a veteran’s story.

Postcard Stations
10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. 
Third Floor Overlook
Visitors can write a postcard to a veteran or active-duty service member. They can take their postcard home to mail or let the museum distribute it to a veteran or active-duty service member.

Make a Paper Star Quilt for Veterans
10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m.
imagiNATIONS Activity Center (third floor)
Participants can honor a veteran by adding a piece to a large paper-star quilt and make a paper-star quilt pattern to take home. Recommended for ages 2–10 years.

Storytime
11:30 a.m. to noon
imagiNATIONS Activity Center (third floor)
Author Mark Woommavovah (Comanche Nation) will read The Little Indian Runner. Recommended for ages 2–10 years.

Event Schedule: Sunday, Nov. 13

Meet the Authors
1 to 3 p.m. 
Second Floor Overlook 
Alexandra Harris and Mark Hirsch, authors of Why We Serve: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces, will discuss the exhibition and sign purchased copies of the book. 

Music and Cultural Performances 
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Potomac Atrium (first floor) 

  • 10 a.m.: Start of Program: Shawn Martinez (Diné), aka DJ Tribal Touch 
  • 10:15 to 10:30 a.m.: Presentation of Colors Native American Women Warriors (Intertribal) 
  • 10:30 to 11 a.m.: Charly Lowry (Lumbee/Tuscarora) and Alexis Raeana (Lumbee) 
  • 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.: The Aloha Boys (Native Hawaiian) 
  • Noon to 12:30 p.m.: Wade Fernandez (Menominee) 
  • 12:45 to 1:15 p.m.: DDAT (Navajo) 
  • 1:30 to 2 p.m.: Morongo Bird Singers (Morongo Band of Mission Indians) 
  • 2:15 to 2:45 p.m.: Spencer Battiest (Seminole of Florida) 
  • 3 to 3:30 p.m.: Akwesasne Women Singers (Mohawk) 
  • 3:45 to 4:15 p.m.: Innastate (Various Pueblos) 
  • 4:30 to 5 p.m.: Keith Secola (Ojibwe) 

Films 
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Rasmuson Theater (first floor)

Film Shorts Series (60 min.); 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Cree Code Talkers (Canada, 2016, 13 min.)
Director: Alexandra Lazarowich (Cree) 
English and Cree with English subtitles 
The true story of Charles “Checker” Tomkins’ involvement with the U.S. Air Force in developing the code talkers’ communication system, which transmitted crucial military communications using the Cree language.

Gene Boy Came Home (Canada, 2007, 24 min.) 
Director: Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki)
A documentary portrait of Eugene “Gene Boy” (pronounced Genie Boy) Benedict, from Odanak Indian Reserve (near Montreal) who, at 17, enlisted in the U.S. Marines and was sent to the front lines of the Vietnam War. This film is the account of his two years of service and his long journey back to Odanak.

A History of Service (Auburn Vet) (USA, 2018, 4 min.) 
Director: Tracy Rector 
Native Americans serve in the U.S. Armed Forces at a higher rate in proportion to their population than any other ethnic group. This film explores the warrior tradition and the exemplary record of service among the United Auburn Indian Community of California.

Ka Ho’i (The Return) (USA, 2021, 20 min.) 
Director: Mitchell Viernes
Writer/Producer: Lopaka Kapanui (Kanaka Maoli)
An aging Hawaiian war veteran grapples with the nightmares of his past and the even scarier thought of being forgotten. One night, he hears a familiar voice calling him from the beach. What he encounters is beyond anything he could have imagined.

Feature Film; 3 p.m.
The People’s Protectors (USA, 2018, 57 min.) 
Director: Leya Hale (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota and Diné)
Four Native American veterans reflect on their experiences in the military during the divisive Vietnam War and how their communities helped them carry their warrior legacy proudly. From the Marine Corps to the Navy to the U.S. Army, veterans Valerie Barber, Art Owen, Sandy White Hawk, Vince Beyl and civilian eyapaha (announcer) Jerry Dearly recall their memories of one of the most controversial wars in U.S. history.

Hands-on Activities
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Various Locations

Veteran Profiles
10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. 
Fourth Floor Overlook 
Participants can learn more about Native veterans who have served throughout history at this teaching cart and take home a bookmark featuring a veteran’s story.

Postcard Stations
10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. 
Third Floor Overlook
Visitors can write a postcard to a veteran or active-duty service member. They can take their postcard home to mail or let the museum distribute it to a veteran or active-duty service member.
Make a Paper Star Quilt for Veterans
10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m.

imagiNATIONS Activity Center (third floor)
Participants can honor a veteran by adding a piece to a large paper-star quilt and make a paper-star quilt pattern to take home. Recommended for ages 2–10 years.

Storytime
11:30 a.m. to noon
imagiNATIONS Activity Center (third floor)
Young visitors can participate in an interactive children’s story highlighting Native American veterans and service members. Recommended for ages 2–10 years.

About the National Native American Veterans Memorial 

The National Native American Veterans Memorial sits on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian and was commissioned by Congress to give “all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service of Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States.” Native Americans have served in every major military conflict in the U.S. since the Revolutionary War. This is the first national landmark in Washington, D.C., to focus on the contributions of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians who have served in the military. 

The memorial was designed by Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma), a multimedia artist, retired forensic artist and Marine Corps Vietnam veteran. The design features an elevated stainless steel circle resting on a carved stone drum. It also incorporates water for ceremonies, benches for gatherings and four lances where veterans, family members, tribal leaders and others can tie cloths for prayers and healing. 

Major support for the National Native American Veterans Memorial has been provided by The Boeing Company, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, The Chickasaw Nation, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Poarch Band of Creek Indians, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The memorial has also been widely supported by tribal governments and tribal veterans organizations, as well as by individuals, corporations, foundations and other organizations.  

The museum will continue to raise monies for an endowment for the memorial. The $5 million endowment will ensure the memorial’s continued upkeep and provide funds for ongoing programming, interpretation and events about Native American veterans. 

About the National Museum of the American Indian 

In partnership with Native peoples and their allies, the National Museum of the American Indian fosters a richer shared human experience through a more informed understanding of Native peoples. The museum in Washington, D.C., is located on the National Mall at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. Connect with the museum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and AmericanIndian.si.edu

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SI-354-2022

Media Only

Becky Haberacker

(202) 633-5183

haberackerb@si.edu

Lisa Austin

(212) 514-3826

austinl@si.edu

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