National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Dedicated on September 16, 1995, at Wisconsin's Highground Memorial Park, the National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial stands in honor of Native Americans who died in combat while serving in the military during the Vietnam War. Thousands of Native Americans served in the military during the Vietnam era, and this memorial recognizes each member of America's sovereign tribal nations.
Backstory and Context
This monument was created as part of a movement to remember the "Forgotten Heroes" of the Vietnam era. Native Americans enlisted in the highest percentage of any demographic and over forty-two thousand Native Americans served in Southeast Asia from 1957 to 1975. This monument commemorates the 232 Native Americans who perished in the war.
The bronze sculpture was created by Harry Whitehorse and depicts a Native American warrior. In his right hand, the soldier holds an M16, the weapon carried by most soldiers. The warrior is also planting a staff of eagle feathers in the ground with his left hand, a symbolic gesture and reference to the proud heritage of Native people in America.
The sculpture stands atop a large red granite stone, weighing approximately ten tons. The white quartz also has meaning, depicting purity of the souls who gave their lives. The entire monument is lined on the outside with black granite slabs with plaques that include the names of each of the deceased. One plaque explains the purpose and symbolism of the objects in the monument and a second describes the history and purpose of the monument. Additional plaques list the names of all the Native Americans who fought and died in Vietnam.
Behind the monument stands two flags-a United States flag and a tribal flag that is rotated regularly to honor different tribes. From April through October, volunteers are available for more information and tours of the Highground which includes numerous other monuments.
Highground's Native American Tribute Flags, www.wiclarkcountyhistory.org/pinevalley/highground/HiGrd_NativeAmericanTributeflags.htm.
“National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial Historical Marker.” Historical Marker, 16 June 2016, www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=29599.
“Native Americans in the Military Vietnam War (1959-75).” Forest County Potawatomi, 30 Nov. 2016, www.fcpotawatomi.com/news/native-americans-in-the-military-vietnam-war-1959-75/.
“The National Native American Vietnam Veterans Memorial – The Highground.” The Highground, www.thehighground.us/tributes_and_facilities/the-national-native-american-vietnam-veterans-memorial/.