Cherokees Help Smithsonian Plan Native American Veterans Memorial

Friday, July 22nd 2016, 9:22 am
By: News On 6

Tribal leaders from Oklahoma are helping create a national Native American Veterans Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. 

There are local Native American memorials including one with an eternal flame near downtown Tulsa, but now Native American veterans will have a national memorial honoring them in Washington, D.C., something they feel, is very well deserved. 

Many of those veterans filled a room at Tulsa's Hard Rock Casino and Hotel, making sure a new national Native American veterans memorial will capture their unique warrior spirit.

"The warriors are the ones that kept the tribe fed, protected the tribe, they definitely had their place," said Debra Wilson.

Native Americans serve in greater numbers per capita than any other ethnic group.  Debra Wilson is Cherokee and served six years in the U.S. Marines.  Her father, grandfather and siblings all served as well.  

She believes Native American's value service and embrace their veterans more than any other culture.

"We have ceremonies for them, we honor them at every gathering, we honor them at pow-pows," said Debra Wilson.  "I would like the rest of the world to know how we treat our veterans and honor them."

The world will soon know when the Native American Veterans Memorial opens at Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

The memorial will represent thousands of Native Americans from hundreds of tribes. 

"Although we are all different, we all have certain tradition, being in the military ties us all together," said Cherokee Nation chief of staff Chuck Hoskin.

Veterans say they hope the memorial is peaceful, spiritual and authentic. It is scheduled to open on Veterans Day 2020.