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tv   National Native American Veterans Memorial Design  CSPAN  October 13, 2019 2:00pm-2:56pm EDT

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to check out all of the new c-span products. artist harvey pratt shares his vision for the national native american veterans memorial in a conversation with kevin gover, the director of the national museum of the american indian. mr. pratt discussed his background as an artist, as well as his own experience as a former u.s. marine in vietnam. this event was hosted by the smithsonian national museum of the american indian. right.all good afternoon. my name is kevin gover. the the director of national museum of the american indian. we are here to talk about the national native american veterans memorial. we've broke ground this morning and we will turn to the business of building the memorial next week.
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so, we are glad that you are here. we are excited to be talking about the memorial. let's get right to it. .ith me is harvey pratt harvey is a citizen of the -arapaho tribes of oklahoma. he is a police chief. he has been a career law enforcement official. he is a working artist. he is a marine and vietnam veteran. please welcome harvey pratt. [applause] harvey, what caused you to submit a proposed design for the memorial? veterans: well, our director just kept after me. i had no -- really had no hope i submit ae close or
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design, but he just kept after me. he said, do it for the tribe, harvey. submit something. i thought about it. i said, let me dream on it. i have to dream. creativity ist done early in the morning during that dream. period. that's what i did. i went home and dreamed about it. i made some sketches. it just came to me all of a sudden that morning and in order 576 recognized tribes, how difficult that was so you can type them all together. and i thought the way you do -- nativeiritually
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people are the same, but we're different. we have the same concept, but we do them a little different. chief, i amenne involved in a lot of ceremonies and ceremonies, to me, were important, and i thought, that is the way to approach this. through ceremonies rather than through a piece of art. i wanted to do something that you could walk into, that you could walk into and be involved in it. to a chief'sent lives or an unknown lodge, a sweat lodge. that was my concept when i saw ,he things about being round and i thought of the circle.
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for short time, i had the idea. we are supposed to do something about spirituality and ceremony. i am in a process of working on a piece on the sand creek massacre on the capitol grounds in denver. i have in an artist for a long time. -- i have been an artist for a long time. [speaking native language] before i was harvey pratt. that means little chief. aveil -- i was a veil ba by, or close bearer. and they said, oh, look at him.
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he wants to be a chief. says they gave me the name. i always admired my school teachers. teacher,grade school never forgot her name, mrs. jones and mrs. wyatt, another schoolteacher, and they always said, harvey, you have some skill. i thought everybody could draw is a tribe. i thought everybody could do something. adults have to tell children. adults have to tell children. enough that ime would tell my children those things if they had a skill or talent, i would try to reinforce that to them and with other children i would meet. arts, i went to indian
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indianat saint patrick's mission. i was drawing one day -- and that is in oklahoma. the priest came by and he saw what i was doing and he said, harvey, you have got talent. he bought me pencils and paint and he painted me a picture. and i did a crucifixion and i made everybody indians. and i sold it. i sold it. in 1961 -- i sold it for $90 in 1961. -- the lightbulb lightbulb went off. i thought, oh, my gosh. i could do this, you know? i could sell some art. -- ithat point on, my art usually tried to paint all kind of indian art and the southwest
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indians would say, that's all wrong. and somebody else would say, we don't do that. so i concentrated on my tribes. that brings this to mind for me. -- you were a school-age artist, doing all right, it sounds like. how did you end up a marine? well, i got out of school and i went to college. i did not have a car, sows hitchhiking everywhere. of reading broke. it was a struggle. uncle.s admired my he had shrapnel all in his body
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and he was our family hero. marine.s a i thought i will join a marine corps. i never told my mother. i just went out and did it. she was sitting across the table for me. i said, mom, i've got to tell you something. i joined the marine corps yesterday. and she looked at me and her , and i called it the silent scream. and i never expected that reaction from her until i got a little older and i thought about it. that she was thinking of her brother that had been wounded numerous times, missing in action. she relives that through
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me, -- relived that through me, for her brother. i got hurt in boot camp. in my armed a nerve and i was paralyzed, paralyzed my left arm. i was devastated because i'm left-handed and i'm an artist. a $90 so, they sent me back to the base. they put me in a dog catchers back, a wire cage in the and it'sbag in there, raining. i am soaking wet and cars are passing me and i was so depressed. and i had my orders. i opened up that bag and i pulled them orders out in his said, my drill instructor said "harvey pratt will be a good marine."
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saved me. saved me. -- because they called you a lot of other things, but they did not call you a marine. when he called me a marine right then, i said, you know what? i'm going to make it. i'm going to make it. from that point on, once i healed, when i went to the rifle range, a qualified the first time with an m1 and i got hurt. when i came back, the gave me and him 14, so i had to qualify within him 14. i was one of the last guys to use the m1 and more of the first guys to use the m14. then they made me a military policeofficer, military on okinawa. the lieutenant came by. it was looking for volunteers. he did not tell us what we were going to volunteer for. he said, you will like it.
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it will be exciting. i volunteered. and they sent me to guerrilla warfare school for two months and i trained with a recon unit, third recon unit, and we still did not know where we were going. i thought it would go over to the philippines really. they sent us to south vietnam in 1963. that is where i served seven with the recon unit. base.rded the race -- we picked up shot down pilots, helicopter pilots, when they got shot him, we would go get them, bring them home. to me, that meant a great deal to indian culture to do those kinds of things, you know, to save people. to save your brothers. that was one of the best things you could do, to save one of your brothers.
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i will tell you a story. my mother had three daughters and sons -- three daughters and 4 sons, and the three daughters were the oldest. they were complaining they did not get treated equally with the brothers. they said, you treat my brothers better than you treat us. they get everything, and my aunt , those boys are going to die for you someday. protect you,e to protect our camp, protect our village. they are going to have to die for you if they have to. to our why we do that men, because they will have to give up their lives. that is why we treat them special. then.ters realized that
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we did not think about going to war or dying for anybody, but that is what the old people said. they said keep your shoes by the bed. you might have to get up and run. i did not understand that. you know? why would i have to get up and run in the middle of the night? because they were attacked -- i was raised by people that were born in the they had toknow? witness those kinds of things. keep your shoes right there. you may have to run in the middle of the night. call your spirit and in the middle of the night. they would call us our indian names. i would say i am right here. they would say, your spirit is still out there running around. i do not want something to get it at night. it took me a while to realize how valuable those things were to us, that my at laura would soulser our spirits, our
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-- keep your shoes there. of things like that that made us who we were. it made me a better person. and the spirituality of who we , you -- as one of the cheyenne chiefs, they say, you make second prices, you know? that is how i approach life. i try to be a better person today than i was yesterday. so how do these things
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you learned from being a cheyenne, being a marine, inform your work on the memorial? i have always been somewhat creative, but the marine corps taught me to adapt and overcome and think about things and not just accept them. when something happens, if you can change it, change it. that has helped me throughout my career, even in law enforcement when issues came out. i did not just accept them. i thought about them and if i could make them better, i would try to make them better. some of the history i picked up my family that taught me to be a , you have to live up to these things. my grandfather, we were extremely poor.
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we had clay. we made our choice. horses and people and cars and animals and that is what we played with. that helps me to be creative. kevin: turning back to the ceremonial elements of the memorial, can you describe those to everyone? yes, i have a ceremonial -- the memorial itself, we have a pathway that comes up the welcoming center and goes the north side and curves around and i thought of pathway isy -- that what some people called the red road and we call it the path of
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life. it is preparation for veterans, , uncles,omen relatives. if you want to honor somebody or pray for somebody, you prepare yourself as you walk this path. prepared andcome the memorial is 15 the across. circle.horizontal so you have an outer circle and toyou walk the path of life to pray your veteran for someone you love or your , you make your
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preparation and you have the outer circle and you can walk in --nterclockwise or clockwise whichever your tribe does. you have the opportunity to be who you are. and there are entryways that are forced out -- that are north, south, east, and west. you can enter from any direction you choose. you can come in from that direct. once you come in that direction from those openings, you come haveharmony where you prepared yourself and you come within that inner circle that is harmony and you are in harmony with the elements, with the water, with the fire, the wind and the earth. you are in harmony with those
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things. those elements. those are all elements people use. fire in sacred water. i bless myself every morning. not only indians use water. a lot of people use water to purify themselves. of the water is there. it really is symbolic, but it has water that comes out of the center, that floats across the top and down the sides. that is the water that is there. foote middle is a 12 stainless steel circle and at the base of that is fire. so, you can use that fire to light your sweet grass and sage and things that you use and you
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can touch the water and use the fire. we call that the drum. and the water pulses out, goes designe sides, and the is rhythmic.e it goes out like that. it goes off the grounds. across into and virginia and the western parts and it calls the indian people -- sacred the seat place. we're one to make it sacred. we are going to make it sacred by your prayers when you come in there. you will pray for your loved ones and you're going to pray for your ancestors. it is timeless. the circle is timeless. when i say it is timeless, we can think about our ancestors,
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ask them to pay for us. we can think about all the men and women in the service now. it is for the future. it is for our grandchildren and it is for their grandchildren that this memorial is timeless. it's not dated. it is going to be the same as it is now as it was hundreds and thousands of years ago and hundreds of thousands of years in the future. it will be the same thing. direct sense, cardinal points. -- directions, cardinal points. fromave the sacred colors the southeast, white. every morning you can pray and look at the sun coming up and say i am going to be a better person than i was yesterday. it's a new beginning. and the southwest is read and that is the creator. -- on the southwest is red.
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and the creator shows us his power and we remember him as our father, god. to the north, that is yellow, earth orhis mother grandmother earth. she gives us everything. she gives us air, the water, plants, and gives us dominion over these things. we have to protect these things. that is what we pray about. in northwest is the color black, and that is our ancestors. we always invite our ancestors i am. we feed our ancestors. we get them food and tobacco and ask them to come watch, making sure we do the ceremonies the way we should you read we do not change them. we try to maintain the sacredness of these ceremonies. god gave people languages and ceremonies. those things are extremely important. and then we can enter all the
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things and the lances have eagle feathers on them and the battle ,ibbon that hangs down the side it's part of the sacred colors. and we have the prayer cloth. you can tie the prayer cloth onto the land is. so, you say a prayer for one of your loved ones overseas or in or gettingharry ready to go and has come back and the wind blows and that prayer goes out. i love that. i have prayer cloths all over our property with my wife gina. we tied prayer cloths. when i think about it, i tear something and say a prayer on it. someone says pray for me, harvey, pray for me. that's what i do. and i try tooths,
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touch all of those things spiritually, you know, spiritually about us, the indian people, because i think we are really spiritual people. -- people say,ut why do you fight for this , but before human beings set on this continent, it was just animals. so, i would say, look, this is our land. it has always been our land. we fight for this.
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native blood is everywhere in this land. so it is precious to us. that is why we try to respect it and do the right thing and care for it. kevin: one of the things we think about, thinking about as the memorial opens, are sort of and we know what the native people will know the tie-in, to make an offering. to how do you think we ought advise our non-native guess to experience the memorial?
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you know, i think that most people are very aware the freedom to have a religion the way you want and you see that in our culture. people will see people making these ceremonies and then you see it and you wonder. it does not have to tell you he hasing, but just blessed his son or daughter that is going into the service and he is asking the creator to protect them. you don't have to tell them exactly why, the medicine that you have him a you know? i have
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always carried medicine, my whole life. i've got some right now in my wallet, medicine, to help protect. you think about those kinds of rings. -- those kinds of things. .nd people are respectful in a think that is what we want to have his respects. i was reading some statistics and it said 46% of the american a dyingon believe it is race, 46% of the people think the indian people ceased to exist when we turned into the 20th century. that shocked me. that shocked me. but i also hear that a lot of people say they respect to be in the them people, you know?
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i think that will happen. people see us doing something, they want to be respectful. i have had people say, hey, off to?u smoke us e,was in an investigation onc and some of the investigator saw me and i was walking around the cedar. when i do the cedar, i take some north,ery direction, south, east, and west, and i , andand i went to the fire these investigators kept saying, harvey, what are you doing? they said, we don't know, you're doing something. we see you're doing something. i said, in going to smoke myself off. i need to approach this with a good heart and do the right thing, so i'm going to cleanse myself. they said, could you do that for us, too? and i was really kind of surprised these men that really didn't know, but they wanted
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that same thing. .nd i think about that a lot people, they see you doing something special, they want some of that, too. they want that when you pray, when you give something itething, and i have learned . i have seen it a lot when you do ceremonies. can you smoke off my brother here? he won some of that. he sees how it makes you feel, it makes you feel about a ceremony. so i would love to have people watch and be respectful, you know? could you do that for me? that is what is really important , that you do those things for people regardless of who they are. is there a think people should not do in the memorial? mr. pratt: when we do ceremonies
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that -- you can't there is a lof things. ceremonies, we would not let you to carry water at a sundance. you can't run and shout, you can't be disrespectful. like even at the tomb of the unknown soldier. they will chastise you if you get loud, be disrespectful. i think to me that would be disrespectful to us if someone went in there and was doing something that was disrespectful. i would hate to see that. kevin: so would i. mr. pratt: i would hate to see it. kevin: but i think that's as good as a characterization you can make. just show respect at all times on this ground. for the audience, when we were out talking with veterans across the country about what the memorial should be about, what
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it would be like, i was a bit surprised because we first thought we would put it out here on our independence side, where we have some open space. and it would be very visible. all these people driving by, all these people walking by would see and hopefully wonder and come to see what that was. to my surprise, very consistently, the veterans were it'sng us, no, you know, too noisy out there, too many cars, too many people. put it on the other side where there can be some privacy. and for the purposes that you are describing, they will use it as a ceremonial space. mr. pratt: yes. kevin: so harvey's design really grasped that in a way that much of the designs did not. the proposed designs.
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you know, when we were working on -- we had a conductor to design competitions, when we working, there was the criteria, these are the things that we want the memorial for the designed to achieve. it occurred to us even then that native people are going to understand these differently. the native artists and designers who submit will understand these differently non-native. nevertheless, when we were evaluating the proposals, we had 120 from all over the world, from most of the states in the united states. we were still -- we did not know who would submitted any given design. the identity of each proposed designer was unknown to the jury. so we were very, because for
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example the martin luther king memorial was designed by a chinese designer. and we thought that would not be very good for the native american memorial, to be designed by not only someone not from the united states, but someone who just had not had that experience. on the other hand, we had some degree of confidence that native designers were going to understand it in the way that we wanted it to be understood and i think your design was really exactly the sort of thing that we anticipated. as a native designer, you would see it, you would understand. and of course your experience as a marine would further inform that. it was what we were looking for. mr. pratt: somewhere during that whole period, that came to me. i thought, i understand. i know what i'm talking about because i've been involved in
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ceremonies and things. i think i understand the way native people are. even though we are different. i understand those things about it. that's what i try to incorporate into my design. those elements that we would all understand. we may not all do them, but we all understand them. for example, the warriors 12 foot circle, the steel circle. i call it the whole in the sky. where the creator lives. he lives up there, that hole in the sky. when you make a prayer or offering or sacrifice, it goes up there. and the creator here is it -- he ars it and he sends it back. a blessing to you. that is the way i interpret that. the air in the sky, and the creator. you ask him, you beg him for something pitiful. and he'll have mercy on you, he
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will give you a blessing that comes back to you through that hole in the sky. so to me there's a lot of symbolic things that i learned throughout my life that i try to incorporate and think about. if i think about it, they're gonna think about it. that sameoing to see thing. they're gonna make a recognition. that's what i hope for. that you would recognize the directions, the cardinal points, and the elements, and the colors, and the pathway. just all the little things that would mean something to native people. i was not worried about trying to educate non-natives. that will come. that will come with this memorial. we will educate non-native people about who we are and why we do certain things. that we are a spiritual people. that we are concerned about this
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earth and how we live. we try to live a good way. and that is all. you recognize that. when you get there and hopefully people will see a good example and follow it. kevin: yeah. so one of the challenges as you've already described is that even though we've had some commonalities, native people are very different one from another . there are 570 some federally recognized indian tribes. several hundred more than are recognized by different state governments. mr. pratt: right. kevin: and a number that say their tries are not recognized by either. how tempting was it to -- one of the things you might do is try to find different hobbles for a
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variety of different cultures and try to put them all and one thing. were you tempted? mr. pratt: you know, i thought about that. when i tried to paint other , i was screwing it up. i was doing it wrong and they would say, we don't do that. so that to me, that came to me and said i can't. i can't try to do something that is southwest tribe did or great lakes. someone that did things different. i cannot add those things, those cultural things because i will do it wrong. that's how i thought of the spirituality and the elements. we all use those things. i initially thought about doing the sculpture because i do sculpt. i will do a sculpture. and then i thought well if i do that, that does not represent those people. that doesn't represent those
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people. that's why i chose to have a destination. a place that people can go to. it has a purpose. it is not a shortcut. it's not a pathway. you have to go there in mind to honor veterans. you have to go there to do that. then you go in and come out. it's not a path that people can walk through and go to somewhere else. you have to go to our memorial specifically. it's not a shortcut. it's where you go to make a commitment as a veteran or a war mother or somebody, grandson. specifically to pray for someone. we did that so it becomes a place of strength, power, reverence, sacredness.
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when someone goes in there, they will fill all those prayers, they will feel all those things. that's what i want. i want people to say, this is the best place. gina and i have a place on our property that we found, and it's a place that we go to. it's a place that i go smoke my pipe. it is a special place. there's a lot of those in this earth. that's what i want this to be, a special place that people can go to and be energized. you know? to be free of any guilt they have. to feel better about themselves. to feel if they go there to pray for someone, it means something. we have all these other players that have already been in there, it's going to have strength in power and healing. that's what i wish for.
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that's what i wish it will help us with. i wish it to help our veterans. let me ask you this. this will turn a different direction. what do you think the challenges that native american veterans are facing today? mr. pratt: i became involved with a veterans organization and i go to the va hospital, and i see veterans, and i see a lot of things. i see people that are homeless, people that are angry. i'm talking about all kinds of people that are veterans. not just indians. i think that indian veterans have been kind of forgotten. not forgotten by their people, but by their tribes and
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families, but forgotten by this country. by the government sometimes. when they make it hard -- i know i have tried to get to be a benefits and some things like that. they make it difficult for you. i say, ok, i'm not the one. when i came back from vietnam, my hearing was damaged. and i went to the medical doctors and i said i can hear -- cannot hear very well. and he said he or nothing but it them more linger. -- he said you are nothing but a malingerer. i said ok. i don't want to be that i turn -- i don't want to be that. i turned around and walked off and never said anything again. even though i was damaged. i see that and if that happens in the people, i say ok. that's done, i'm done. they don't fight as hard as some
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people do to hear what they want. i'll take care of myself. that's part of the problem that we have to train veterans. say, hey, we are here to help. you were here to help you because i've been through it and i know it, i'll help you go through that path so this is the way you do this to achieve a bit hearing, your agent orange, those things. i will help you do it. that's what we need to do. we need to help those guys that have given up. that's why i got involved with our veterans organization. the american legion. belonged with indian veterans. you know he's a veteran, but he just kind of hangs back to the side, and you go over and help them. i can help you do this. they did that to my brother. he never applied for nothing. he went into one of the meetings, kind of like what we have the to the veteran groups, he was just walking by and they
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called him in. they said we can help you do this. and he draws disability. he was homeless. now he has a little place and draws disability. he is pride in what he has done. he gave up. i think that's what happens to a lot of us indian people. we need people that are willing to step up and help them. show them that there is a way. that ione of the things talk about a lot, sometimes even after all this time i struggle to find the words for, is about how native veterans are received in their own communities, and how their status and prestige in their communities, and i don't see that, a similar sort of thing going on in non-indian communities. mr. pratt: in whose experience? kevin: talking about how native
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american veterans are treated within their own communities. and by their people. mr. pratt: you know, when i was in vietnam, i fully expected to die over there. i was afraid my bones would be left there and they would not find my body. i don't want that. i want to come home. i want my bones and my body to come home. that was so important to me, that they didn't leave me over there somewhere. when i came home, my family had a big ceremony. they had some medicine men smoke me and do pray for something for me. my family gave away and they fit -- fed everybody. to me that i felt so good about what my tribe and indian people were doing for us.
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i had seen that my whole life, and i really experienced i felt like i belong. you know? a long time ago, a lot of the tribes when their men went out before they could come back into camp, they made stay out. they made him stay out on the perimeter. wl likeuld ho wolves. they sent their servicemen out there to cleanse them and said because you've been fighting and doing things and we don't want you to come into the camp, around their women and children and act that way being angry and volatile but we want to cleanse you and clean up and make your human being again before you come in here. indian people were dealing with
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ptsd a long time ago. medicine does not work for everybody. you know? it is not work for everybody. it is here and here. some guys are angry about it. those were the guys we were going to try to help and take that away from them i was visiting a man and they were interviewing him. he went to vietnam and killed people. he was still carrying that around in his heart. i killed people. something should have been done for him and he had been around for 40 years. i killed people. that is terrible. we need people to help cure those kinds of men that do -- that had to do things and help them get past that. it's a journey.
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kevin: it is. i read a book a couple years ago. i hope i do not mangle the author's name. book called "tribes" and was talking about ptsd and why so many veterans struggle with ptsd. he concluded it was because in most places and most veterans , they don't get that reception back. they are not greeted by the community. they are not helped to understand what's happening to them and cleansed. as they say it is more the , spiritual cleansing. mr. pratt: yes. kevin: in a way, as well, most veterans don't get to tell their story. there's no safe place for them to talk about what they've
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experienced, and i think that the tribes have always been like you say, they learned what ptsd was before and had practices it and can alleviate show others how to do that. speaking of that, i'm sure you would agree that not just native veterans are welcome in this memorial. mr. pratt: i do agree with that. it is for everybody. you need to go there and heal and pray and participate. yeah. it should be for everybody. it should be. if you want to learn and understand our ways, come. participate.
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be part of it. kevin: i think that, you know, in a lot of ways, even native veterans are closer to their even someerans than of their family or people in their tribe. and experienced is profound the relationship. mr. pratt: i have a good friend that we went to boot camp together and went to vietnam together and he was a pratte and he was a cajun pratt. two or three times a week on the phone, text. i am as close to him as i am anybody else. i am as close to him because we
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experienced that kind of thing together. he was a real technical guy. he would say that is a m60. he could tell you the sound of the weapon and the explosions and planes coming over. he was just that kind of a technical guy. we were on the same fire team. he was like that. and i just kind of flew by the seat of my pants. you know? i went this way. we really kind of matched because we were from opposite matched and made a good team. we made a really good team, he and i. someone coming to the airfield. he and i captured him. a week later, we were standing
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there and we will go out on a special mission and we want volunteers. pratt andeers are pratt. [laughter] mr. pratt: the volunteers are pratt and pratt. he was just elated. i was not so sure about it. kevin: we always heard about you marines. all right. well, harvey, thanks so much and thanks for being here this afternoon. mr. pratt: my honor. kevin: for all the things you have done and all the ways that you have served. and thank you for your creation . honored to be able to work with you and bring it into being. could not have been done without you. memorialy ways, our has a perfect design and a perfect designer. mr. pratt: thank you. ourteam that came together,
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design team, architects, your staff, it has just been phenomenal the way things have all come together. it has been a great experience for myself and my wife, gina, and my family, and the tribal people, and the people i have people areraisers, just excited about it and about raising money to come next year. kevin: yes. mr. pratt: selling fry bread and all sorts of thing. trying to raise money to come here. kevin: yes. we are looking forward to that. it will be a great day, veterans day 2020. we will be dedicating this memorial. we expect and are working to make sure that there will be thousands of native american veterans here on the national mall next veterans day. thank you all for being here
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this afternoon. thank you all who have watched online. we got some more work to do, but it's a labor of love now and we look forward to completing the project. thanks again. mr. pratt: thank you very much. [applause] >> monday, columbus day, on american history tv at noon, supreme court justice ruth bader ginsburg and sonia sotomayor discussed the judicial impact of the first woman on the u.s. supreme court, sandra day o'connor. >> sandra, if you read between ,he lines, what she is saying if you want to improve the status of women in the nursing profession, the best way to do it is to get men to want to do
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the job because the pay inevitably will go up. [laughter] >> explore our nation's past on american history tv every weekend on c-span3. >> monday night on "the communicators," the former senior advisor to fcc chair tom wheeler, and senior vice president of u.s. toll, talk about the recent d.c. up euros decision -- appeals decision on net neutrality. decision, as it largely has been for the last 20 years outside of a two-year order,under the title ii was permissible. >> when the fcc reclassified broadband internet access as an information service rather than the total communication service and also that another part of the act, section 706, does not
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provide authority for regulation, it washed its hands. it abdicated its authority, its ability to oversee the broadband market. >> monday at eight a copy on p.m. onwo -- 8:00 c-span2. >> next, philip deloria reflex only work at -- on the work and activism of his father, vine deloria. this event was hosted by the university of colorado boulder's center of the american west. >> it's really my great pleasure now and honor to introduce the luncheon speaker. in january of 2018, the standing of harvard university ascended went philip j. deloria


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