Oklahoma artist Harvey Pratt’s design selected for National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Associated Press and The Oklahoman - June 28, 2018 12:37 pm

An acclaimed American Indian artist from Oklahoma will spend the next two years working on the most prestigious project of his career, to be placed at one of the most prestigious spots in the country: the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Harvey Pratt, a Cheyenne and Arapaho artist based in Guthrie, was named the winner of the National Native American Veterans Memorial design contest. Pratt’s design concept, titled “Warriors’ Circle of Honor” was selected unanimously by the jury for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

“It’s just hard to wrap my brain around it and think about what all that means and how it’s going to affect us for the rest of our lives,” Pratt said. “That’s hard for me to think about, just the magnitude of having designed a national monument.”

The National Museum of the American Indian was commissioned by Congress to build the National Native American Veterans Memorial. Native Americans serve in the U.S. military at a higher rate per capita than any other population group, according to the Smithsonian.

“Through meeting thousands of Native American veterans, I learned most of all about the commitment these veterans have to the well-being of the United States,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the museum, in a statement. “These veterans are perfectly aware that they are serving a country that had not kept its commitments to Native people, and yet they chose—and are still choosing—to serve. This reflects a very deep kind of patriotism. I can think of no finer example of service to the United States and the promise it holds.”

The museum launched last year an international design competition that drew 413 registrations from five continents. The submissions were narrowed to five finalists, including Pratt and the Oklahoma-based team of American Indian artists Daniel SaSuWeh Jones (Ponca) and Enoch Kelly Haney (Seminole).

Pratt’s winning design has at its centerpiece an elevated stainless-steel circle that symbolizes the cycles of life and death as well as unity among all Native veterans. The circle is to be set on an intricately carved stone drum with water flowing over it. An outer wall encompassing the drum and circle will provide some privacy for the benches inside.

“I want it to be a place of power and a place of comfort and healing,” Pratt said.

The memorial is to be located prominently on the National Museum of the American Indian’s grounds on the National Mall, between the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol.

A Vietnam War veteran, Pratt is an internationally known painter, sculptor and forensic artist. He retired last year as the forensic artist for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation after a more than 50-year career in law enforcement.

The groundbreaking for the National Native American Veterans Memorial is slated for Sept. 21, 2019. Projected to cost about $8 million to build, it is slated to open in late 2020.


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