Letter to the Editor: Still waiting for Native Warrior statue at Native Veterans Memorial

My brother was killed by the North Vietnamese in 1967.

I am Floyd Dawson, a member of the Navajo Nation, living in Tonalea, Arizona. The Western Navajo Agency includes American Indian tribes made up of clans, such as Edgewater and Manygoats. On Nov. 11, 1987, I went to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to pay tribute to my brother whose name is carved on The Wall. It is located in the Constitution Gardens on the Mall in Washington, D.C., the memorial is most often referred to as “The Wall”.

Near the entrance to the memorial site is the life-like statue called the Three Servicemen. The 7-foot high bronze statue is placed almost directly across from The Wall, but The Native American Servicemen statue wasn’t included in the group, (neglected). This is when I thought about the Native Americans across the nation not being represented at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

In February 1989, I was chosen to be the first one to start plans to accomplish a memorial for Native Americans of the United States. The start of this memorial was a great event, even though I had never chosen to enter the political life. I had never dealt with politics or the political process for achieving a national memorial. I did it entirely on my own initiative and learned the procedure by which an individual citizen can propose a law by petition and ensure its submission to the electorate.

In January 1990, I lobbied on Capitol Hill to try and influence members of congress. In January of 1991, the late senator John McCain introduced legislation S.B. 293, to establish a National Native American Veterans Memorial to honor those natives that served in the Vietnam War. Senator John McCain was a big supporter of Native Americans and he was also a POW. He had a place in his heart for me and helped me develop my plans for the memorial in Washington, D.C. He worked closely with me and other native veterans across the nation on a special pillar honoring my effort.

Public law 103-384 103d passed congress to provide a National Native American Veterans Memorial, being cited as established in 1994. Both houses passed the bill, giving permission for the memorial to be built in Washington D.C. Oct. 22, 1994, President William Bill Clinton signed the bill into law and that the memorial would be built on the Mall.

The law did not say what the memorial was to look like. That decision was left to the National Congress of American Indians. It authorized a competition that would by submitted for approval to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution. More than 120 designs were introduced from around the globe. Mr Harvey Pratt’s design, which he titled “Warriors Circle of Honor” was selected to be commissioned.

Due to a lack of money and slow progress, my focus is now to have the memorial done by the sculptor Karl Kendall. His vision is titled “Native Warrior”, an 8-foot statue that will be placed on the Navajo Nation to honor Native American Veterans.

Thank you.

Floyd Dawson

Tonalea, Arizona

Donate to nhonews.com Report a Typo Contact