Native Americans have served in every major U.S. military encounter from the Revolutionary War to today’s conflicts in the Middle East in higher numbers per capita than any other ethnic group. Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces reveals the remarkable history of Native American veterans through art, photography and essay.
The 16-panel exhibition documents 250 years of Native peoples’ contributions in U.S. military history and will be available for viewing beginning September 19 in the Museum of the Southeast American Indian on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
“This exhibit is a testament to the strength and courage of Native Americans, specifically female American Indian service members” said Nancy Fields, director of the Museum of the Southeast American Indian.
“We are honored to have the panel display in our museum space, offering a fresh exhibit for patrons and community members.”
The exhibition will travel throughout the country in a number of locations. A panel version of the exhibition is currently on display through January of 2018 at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.
“Tens of thousands of Native Americans joined the U.S. armed forces during World Wars I and II,” said Herman J. Viola, curator emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and curator of “Patriot Nations.” “Forty-four thousand Native Americans served in World War II; the entire population of Native Americans was less than 350,000 at the time. They are Purple Heart recipients and Bronze Star medal honorees. Many have been recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military award.”
Patriot Nations also calls attention to the creation of the National Native American Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the museum on the National Mall. Congress has charged the museum with building the memorial 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.”
Working together with the National Congress of American Indian, Native American veterans, tribal leaders, historians and cultural experts, the museum will complete the memorial by Veteran’s Day 2020. For more information about the memorial, visit AmericanIndian.si.edu/NNAVM.
Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces was produced by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. The exhibition was made possible by the generous support of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.
The exhibit will be on display at UNC Pembroke until December 12, 2017. The museum is open to the public, and there is no cost of admission.