Work of Oklahoma multimedia artist chosen by museum

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FARMINGTON — The National Museum of the American Indian announced today the winning design concept for the National Native American Veterans Memorial.

Harvey Pratt, a Cheyenne and Arapaho multimedia artist from Oklahoma, designed, "Warriors' Circle of Honor" to honor the military service by Native Americans.

"I want to thank our ancestors for their traditions and their ceremonies that we continue to use. That's what this memorial is based on," Pratt said about his design in an online video posted by the museum.

The memorial will be located on the museum grounds on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Pratt, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam in 1963, said the memorial was envisioned to provide strength and comfort.

"It is a place for people to come and interact. It's not just a place to come and look. You can come inside this memorial and become part of it," Pratt said in the video.

The design incorporates a large, upright stainless steel circle that represents the cycles of life, nature, seasons and elements, each one sacred to Native Americans, he said.

At the base of the circle is a fire, which was designed not to serve as an eternal flame but one that could be ignited for special occasions, Pratt said.

Other components of the design include the seals for the five military branches carved into the east wall.

Hans Butzer, the architect of record for the design team, said the memorial will provide a place for visitors to observe the valor, legacy and endurance of Native American veterans.

The design adhered to specifications outlined in the project's requirements, including falling into the $8 million budget for design and construction, no highlighting names of those who served or listing specific tribal communities, and no alteration to public streets or sidewalks.

Congress commissioned the museum in December 2013 to build the memorial and to raise funding for the $15 million project.

Five finalists were announced in January after 413 submissions were collected by an open competition last year.

Groundbreaking for the memorial is scheduled for September 2019 and the opening date is planned for late 2020.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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