Graton Rancheria donates $ 1.5 million to Smithsonian Native American Veterans Memorial


The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria donated $ 1.5 million to the Smithsonian’s National Native American Veterans Memorial, completing the National Museum of the American Indian’s $ 15 million fundraising goal for the project.

The memorial, which honors Native American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian veterans and their families, is the first national monument in Washington, DC to recognize Native contributions and service to the military, according to a press release of the Smithsonian.

The donation from the Graton Tribe, based in Sonoma County, was the largest in the project and helped complete funding for the memorial’s construction, said Danielle Lote, the museum’s acting associate director for advancement.

“We are extremely grateful to Graton Rancheria and truly to all the supporters of the project,” said Lote. “But President (Greg) Sarris holds a special place in our hearts to help us achieve our goal.”

Sarris, an endowed professor at Sonoma State University who teaches Native American literature and a museum administrator, decided to donate the remaining money after a presentation by the Memorial Funding Advisory Committee, Lote said.

In 2013, Congress passed legislation authorizing the museum to establish a National Native American Veterans Memorial to give “all Americans the opportunity to experience the proud and courageous tradition of Native American service in the United States Armed Forces. According to their website.

The museum started raising funds in 2013. Construction of the memorial began in 2016 and was completed in the summer of 2020. The memorial has been officially open to the public since November 2020. A dedication will take place on the next Day of Veterans on November 11, 2022 at the museum to honor and celebrate Indigenous Veterans.

The memorial is “an important step in recognizing the service that Native Americans have rendered to this country and continue to dedicate themselves to the community, and the contributions of their family members,” Lote said.

The memorial is also a way of publicly acknowledging a long-held belief among academics that Native Americans served at a higher rate as a proportion of their population than any other racial or ethnic group, Lote said.

Although this statistic cannot be confirmed due to conservation and data collection issues, Native Americans (who have historically been lumped into the “colored” group of those who are drafted into the military) have a patriotic culture. deeply rooted and generations of Americans serving in the military since the War of Independence.

“The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria are proud and pleased to be able to donate $ 1.5 million to the National Native American Veterans Memorial,” Sarris said in a written statement. “This gift reinforces our firm commitment to honor the many Native American, Alaskan and Hawaiian veterans who served this country in the military.”

Now that the museum has raised the funds for the construction, its next step is to begin raising funds for its $ 5 million endowment, which will be used for the maintenance, programming, interpretation and events of the aboriginal veterans memorial, Lote said.

You can contact Editor-in-Chief Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or [email protected] On Twitter @alana_minkler.

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