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Ben Nighthorse Campbell

Nighthorse Campbell Leading Way for Native Veterans Memorial


The figure is at least $10 million and the timeframe about five years. Those are the details Ben Nighthorse Campbell shared recently with the Durango Herald in discussing the Native American Veterans Memorial.

The Korean War Veteran, Olympic athlete and former Colorado politician, is co-chairman of the advisory committee with Chickasaw Nation Lt. Gov. Jefferson Keel, overseeing the memorial’s construction.

The memorial will be built at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Campbell says at least $10 million is needed, but a $15 million campaign was launched on October 20 at a reception at the National Congress of American Indians’ 72nd annual convention as ICTMN reported.

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Initial pledges of $5,000.00 were made by the Tulalip, Puyallup and Mohegan Nations, as well as the National Indian Gaming Association were announced at the reception. There were promises of more to follow.

The original legislation was signed into law with the Native American Veterans Memorial Establishment Act of 1994 but two provisions held up the memorial’s creation. The first was the stipulation that the monument could not be outdoors on the National Mall, but had to be within the NMAI. The second was that NMAI was not allowed to raise funds for the monument, instead depended on the efforts of NCAI.

The new legislation written by Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), a Cherokee Nation member, removed those roadblocks on December 26, 2013, when President Barack Obama signed it into law.

“The only parameters outlined right now are that it needs to be built on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian, and since they have limited land space, they’ll have to have something designed that fits into that existing piece of land,” Campbell told the Herald.

Campbell also said the memorial would highlight the contributions and military service of all American Indians throughout history for visitors of the museum in an effort to improve recognition.

The memorial advisory committee has plans to compile stories and details from veterans throughout 2016 to help shape the construction process as the memorial moves forward.

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