Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

MIAC Presents "Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nationís Armed Forces"

October 14, 2020


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. The exhibition will be on display at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture from October 16 through November 10, 2020.  

“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. “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 Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military award.” 

The exhibition also calls attention to the creation of the National Native American Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. 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 Indians, Native American veterans, tribal leaders, historians, and cultural experts, the museum will host a virtual event on November 11, 2020, to mark the completion of the National Native American Veterans Memorial. For more information about the memorial, visit  

Wes Studi (Cherokee), who served in the United States Army in Vietnam stated, “This is an opportunity to learn more about American Indians who proudly served our country for the protection of communities and families. We are a nation built on Indigenous service. The exhibit is a timely honoring and remembering of these histories.”  

“Patriot Nations” 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.

About the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture
The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Regents for the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and our donors. The mission of the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology is to serve as a center of stewardship, knowledge, and understanding of the artistic, cultural, and intellectual achievements of the diverse peoples of the Native Southwest. 

About the National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present and future—through partnership with Native people and others. Follow the museum via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To learn more about the museum’s mission, visit



Related Photos

Code Talkers Corporal Henry Bahe, Jr. and Private First Class George H. Kirk.
William Terrill Bradby
Vietnam Era Veterans Inter-Tribal Association Color Guard
San Carlos Apache Scouts
Master Sergeant Woodrow Wilson Keeble
General Ulysses S. Grant

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