September 14, 2021

Wyoming’s First Memorial Dedicated to Native American Veterans
The Path of Honor. Photo courtesy of Wind River Country

Wyoming’s First Memorial Dedicated to Native American Veterans: Path of Honor

On Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, community members, local and state officials, Tribal leaders and veterans gathered together for the dedication ceremony of Wyoming’s very first memorial honoring Native American military service members. The Path of Honor is a new tribute to the veterans who live within the boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. So far, over 1,000 service members’ names have been submitted to be included in the memorial.

The service opened with the beat of the drum circle, color guard and an opening prayer. Shoshone and Arapaho Tribal Leaders and Wind River Veterans spoke bravely about their experiences serving their country.

Lyle Wadda, spearhead of the Path of Honor project, shared the history of American Legion Richard Pogue Post 81. Formed in 1946, the post was named after Richard Pogue who was the first Shoshone killed in WWII.

Governor Mark Gordon gave heartfelt words about those who valiantly served their country, giving thanks to both those who have fallen and those who are still here today.

Wyoming’s First Memorial Dedicated to Native American Veterans
Red pathway weaving between signs. Photo courtesy of Wind River Country

Commander Felicia Antelope of American Legion Post 96 and Northern Arapaho Tribal member went into the military with a sense of purpose: to honor the members of her family that served and to pave a path for future generations. She spoke about her successful advancement in the military, graduating at the top of her class and earning sergeant stripes. She also achieved perfect scores in all of her training and made it to the Commandant’s List.

The number of Native Americans who have served in the United States Armed Forces is five times larger than the national average. The veterans from the Wind River Indian Reservation have served the country for over 175 years, long before they were even citizens. While many were drafted, a large number volunteered, often citing family and tribal traditions of service as a reason.

John St. Clair, Chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and Vietnam Veteran, had no choice when he was drafted in 1966. When he returned home, he struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the stigma of being a veteran for many years. Now Wyoming has a place that honors those like St. Clair, who deserves to be recognized for his duties.

The Path of Honor is located in Fort Washakie at the Frank B. Wise Business Center and is open to all who wish to come together to discover, preserve and honor the service of all the veterans of the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Posted in Notes From the Field