First Americans are also first in America’s service

Few realize that Native Americans have served our country in every conflict since the Revolutionary War–and in greater numbers per capita than any other group. Honor the courage and sacrifice of these warriors in a series of special programs on Veterans Day.


Kiowa memorial

Eagle-feather war bonnets adorn U.S. military uniform jackets at a Ton-Kon-Gah (Black Leggings Society) ceremonial, held annually to honor Kiowa tribal veterans. Near Anadarko, Oklahoma, 2006. (National Museum of the American Indian)

In honor of the strength, courage and dedication of Native warriors, the American Indian Museum on the National Mall will host special presentations, a new exhibition and a symposium of war stories from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, on Veterans Day, Friday, Nov. 11.

10 a.m.: The exhibition “For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw” opens to the public. A section of the exhibition is dedicated to images of community and war, with images spanning the World War II, Korea and Vietnam eras.

Women in Native dress stand at attention

The Native American Women Warriors lead the grand entry during a powwow in Pueblo, Colorado, June 14, 2014. From left: Sergeant First Class Mitchelene BigMan (Apsáalooke [Crow]/Hidatsa), Sergeant Lisa Marshall (Cheyenne River Sioux), Specialist Krissy Quinones (Apsáalooke [Crow]), and Captain Calley Cloud (Apsáalooke [Crow]), with Tia Cyrus (Apsáalooke [Crow]) behind them. (Photo by Nicole Tung)

11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.: Native American Women Warriors will perform an honor guard presentation. The group was created to raise awareness of women veterans, especially those of Native American descent, and their contributions to the military.

1 p.m. (following presentation of colors): Chickasaw Nation Lt. Gov. Jefferson Keel will announce the building of a National Native American Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the museum. The memorial is poised to be completed by Veterans Day 2020.

Black and white photo of pow wow, American flag in center of circle

Powwow at Lone Bear’s dance ground. Carnegie, Oklahoma, ca. 1945. (© 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw. Reprinted with permission.)

1:10 p.m.: Sandra Evers-Manly, Northrop Grumman Corp. vice president of global corporate responsibility and president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation, will announce a major gift on behalf of the corporation in support of the building of the National Native American Veterans Memorial. Keel, who co-chairs the memorial’s advisory committee, will accept the gift on behalf of the museum.

2 p.m.: In conjunction with the opening of “For a Love of His People,” the museum will present a symposium, “Valor in Black and White: War Stories of Horace Poolaw.” Decorated U.S. Marine Corps veteran Robert “Corky” Poolaw and Linda Poolaw (two of Horace Poolaw’s four children, both Kiowa/Delaware) will discuss Poolaw’s photography, with particular attention to his pictures on the subject of American Indians and the military. Poolaw’s grandson, contemporary multimedia artist Thomas Poolaw, will join the conversation with an exploration of his grandfather’s work and reflection on his artistic and cultural legacy. The museum’s Alexandra Harris (Cherokee) will moderate; book signing of the exhibition catalog, For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw, follows with the Poolaw family. The book, which includes more than 150 never-before-published photographs, will be available for purchase at the museum store.

Two men in jumpsuits and eagle feather war bonnets stand in front of military plane

Fortress. MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida, ca. 1944. © 2014 Estate of Horace Poolaw. Reprinted with permission.

For more details about the National Museum of the American Indian, visit Follow the museum via social media on Facebook, its Twitter accounts for Washington and New York and Instagram.

Posted: 7 November 2016
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