American Indian Veterans Initiative 2015 - 2016

American Indian color guard

Honoring our American Indian Veterans - Wharton Center Event November 2015

In 2013, with the efforts of American Indian tribes around the United States and through a legislative act of Congress, the National Museum of the American Indian in conjunction with the National Congress of American Indians was authorized to develop a memorial for our American Indian Veterans on the grounds of the museum.  Given that American Indians have been, per capita, the largest ethnic group represented in nearly all branches of U.S. Military service, extending all the back to the Revolutionary War, this memorial represents a step forward in not only recognizing the efforts of these veterans throughout U.S. history, but also their role within each and every one of our communities across the country as role models, leaders, and inspiration to commitment for the protection of our lands and our sovereign rights as nations. 

Alongside these efforts at the national level, the State of Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) this year recognized Michigan State University as one of it’s Veteran-Friendly Schools at Gold-level status.  The MVAA assesses Higher Education institutions around the state based on seven criteria (see linkhere). 

With this recognition and in conjunction with the Federal American Indian veterans memorial initiative, the Native American Institute was fortunate to host Dr. Herman J. Viola, curator emeritus of the National Museum of the American Indian, for an initial listening session to discuss the proposed memorial and for an evening of sharing stories on Thursday, November 19th, 2015.  In addition to Dr. Viola, Sarah Mellon of the MSU Veterans Resource Center and Peter Vicaire, Tribal Government Relations Specialist of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Central Region, provided opening remarks for this evening event and shared information regarding the current state of veterans affairs and the resources and programs available to facilitate the pursuit of new careers and overall success as our veterans transition to civilian life. 

The Institute is committed to continuing these listening sessions around the State of Michigan, and we look forward to our next one to be held at, and in partnership with, Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.  This event is currently scheduled to be held in September, 2016.  More details will follow as the program develops.  

To our veterans, 

Chi Miigwetch, Igwien, Bamaa Pii, Pidamaya, 

John Norder (Director)

Mary Calcatera (Outreach Specialist)

Christie Poitra (Outreach Specialist)

Judy Pierzynowski (Student Research Assistant)