WASHINGTON D.C. (KETK) – After 25 years of designing, a memorial recognizing Native Americans in the military has broken ground and is ready for construction..
Kevin Gover, is the Director of the National Museum of the American Indian and helped welcome Native American veterans from across the country at the groundbreaking.
“Now and then you just got that little hit that it’s about time somebody noticed us,” said Kevin Gover, director of the national museum.
The memorial is the first on the grounds of the Smithsonian Museum located in Washington D.C. which draws 24 million visitors a year.
After a long design process, Harvey Pratt’s drawing was selected as the finalist. The self-taught Native American artist from Oklahoma, also a veteran, said he wanted to focus on the spirituality of the native people.
“They were very astute about the environment, the weather, the stars, the moon, the sun and almost everything they did was a ceremony and a prayer. I thought that’s how I can reach the 576 federally recognized tribes,” said Pratt.
“It’s about time that we celebrated their sacrifice,” said Robert Wilkie, secretary of Veterans Affairs.
According to the National Museum of the American Indian, more than 140,000 veterans identify as Native Americans.
More than 31,000 Native Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Alaska Natives are currently serving in the U.S. Military.
The memorial is set to open in 2020.