Commemorating and Honouring Indigenous People
Many people believe that we are educated enough about the history of the indigenous people and commemorate them. However, these monuments and memorials show that we should not forget about indigenous people. In this digital exhibit, I will argue that there should be more of these to truly learn, recognise, and honour indigenous people by having memorials.
The Native Americans of the United States
Native Americans, the indigenous peoples of the United States, belong to hundreds of nations with different linguistic, social, cultural and economic traits. These Americans have faced years of genocide, dislocation, and variations of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual violence. They had to suffer through biological warfare caused by the introduction of Western diseases. They were expelled from their lands by Western colonists, and they had to live through the cruel and discriminatory policies of the 19th century that essentially banned their way of life. Despite such a troubled history, Native Americans have served in the Armed Forces at five times the national average with distinction in every major conflict for 200 years. The Department of Defense states that more than 24,000 current active-duty service members are American Indians, and the 2010 Census identified more than 150,000 American Indian veterans.
Despite their significant contribution to the US military, the Natives did not have any memorials in honour of their service until 2020. This throws the question: why is a memorial or a monument necessary when the US military publishes articles thanking American Indians for their service? They are already being honoured during veteran’s day; so why a separate monument just for them? In order to answer these questions, it is crucial that we understand what a monument or a memorial represents. A monument is created explicitly to commemorate a person, event or a group important to society. It conveys the narrative of the group and the values it represents. Bronze stands still while time passes, and thus monuments serve a constant reminder of the message they represent. This is exactly why there should be a memorial for the Native American heroes.
Many Americans are unaware of the exceptional services performed by Native veterans. On veteran’s day 2020, a memorial dedicated to the Native veterans will be unveiled. For the first time, the enduring and distinguished service of Native Americans in every branch of the U.S. military will be recognised on a national scale. Pictured on the left, the circular design represents a sacred circle, the cycles of time and life and the movement of the stars and planets. The memorial incorporates the elements of fire, representing strength, courage, endurance, and comfort; water, signifying purification and prayer; earth, which provides people with all they need; and the wind that will carry the prayers and memories of visitors skyward. The memorial will be both timeless
and inclusive. This is a time for people to truly commemorate and honour American Indian soldiers who served in the US army and sacrificed since the revolutionary war.
National Aboriginal Veterans Monument
This is the national monument of the indigenous people. The monument could finally be unveiled in Ontario, Canada, due to the consistent hard work of the National Aboriginal Veterans Association (NAVA), Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, and Senator Nick Taylor. As it is shown in the picture of the monument, there are two men and women who represent the diversity of First Nations. The sculpture's structure is unique in the sense that there are two predators, prey, women, men, weapons, and spiritual objects. Additionally, there is an eagle at the top of the sculpture, which represents the creator and the spirit of the indigenous people in Canada. The statue symbolises the strengths of the thousands of women and men who sacrificed during World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.
The aboriginal memorial is dedicated to the indigenous people who sacrificed defending their land and inspired by the hollow log coffin mortuary ceremony of Central Arnhem Land. To commemorate all of them, 200 hollow log coffins from Central Arnhem Land are displayed in the National Gallery of Australia. Interestingly, the log coffins were naturally hollowed out by termites; they are coloured with the natural pigments. The designs or paintings of the hollow log coffins vary in groups, which represent the common ancestor, land, language, and strict social affiliations.
Aboriginal Memorial. (2020, August 25). Retrieved November 01, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboriginal_Memorial
Australia, N. (n.d.). The Aboriginal Memorial Introduction. Retrieved November 01, 2020, from https://nga.gov.au/aboriginalmemorial/home.cfm
Canada, V. (2020, October 29). National Aboriginal Veterans Monument. Retrieved November 01, 2020, from https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/national-inventory-...
Hope, N. (n.d.). Native American Life Today - Native Hope. Retrieved November 01, 2020, from https://pages.nativehope.org/native-american-life-today
National Native American Veterans Memorial: National Museum of the American Indian. (n.d.). Retrieved November 01, 2020, from https://americanindian.si.edu/visit/washington/nnavm
Nicoa, Says, K., & Says, K. (2019, November 08). American Indian Veterans Have Highest Record of Military Service. Retrieved November 01, 2020, from https://www.nicoa.org/american-indian-veterans-have-highest-record-of-mi...