A Long-Deserved Tribute to Native American Veterans
November 10, 2022
Roughly 2,300 steps link the circuitous walk from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian to the stately entrance of the United States Capitol. This walkway along the National Mall is a historic part of Washington, D.C., heavily trafficked by sightseers stopping to admire and photograph some of the city’s most iconic structures.
On Friday, some 1,500 Native veterans will travel that route in a distinguished processional of former service members from every branch of the military to celebrate the newly installed National Native American Veterans Memorial. Descended from tribal communities and cultures that predate any building or structure in the area by hundreds of years, they will be the icons.
Native Americans’ service to the U.S. is a most enduring and complicated sacrifice of self, framed in a promise to uphold a government that has historically targeted, swindled and decimated their communities several times over. And still, Indigenous people have served valiantly in every major conflict, every capacity, every generation since a formalized military was raised in 1775 for what became the Revolutionary War.