S-K Confederated Tribes Honor Flathead Veterans

Nov 15th, 2010 | By | Category: 22-2: Crossing Borders, Winter 2010, Tribal College News

VETERANS MEMORIAL. Corwin “Corky” Clairmont designed this memorial, which is made of black granite and includes several icons of significance to tribes in the area. Photo courtesy of Corwin Clairmont

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) of the Flathead Nation dedicated a new memorial to veterans on July 14, 2010. The Warrior/Veterans Wall of Remembrance at Eagle Circle stands in front of the tribal headquarters in Pablo, MT. The memorial’s designer, Corwin “Corky” Clairmont, says it is meant to welcome home warriors and thank them for their service. Clairmont has worked for Salish Kootenai College since 1984 and has been the art director there for the last several years.

Made of black granite, the Warrior Memorial is 10 feet tall, and its human figures are close to life-sized. At the memorial’s highest point is an eagle’s head. The eagle is a symbol of strength, says Clairmont, and its wings span the length of the memorial, enclosing a series of images, including those of two bison and two warriors. One of those figures is Warrior Woman. An infant in a cradleboard hangs off the saddle horn, and the Woman Warrior riding the horse is holding the Eagle fan.

Listed on the walls are the names of more than 1,200 men and women (Native and non-Native) from the Flathead Reservation who have served in the military. The current list of Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille veterans who are enrolled tribal members and first generation descendants totals almost that many (1,152), according to the Char-Koosta News.

The three-hour dedication ceremony included a victory dance featuring veterans and the firing of three arrows into the sky, according to a story by Vince Devlin in the Missoulian newspaper. Those arrows were retrieved and presented to elders from each of the reservation’s three tribes.

CSKT Facilities Manager Sam Barber says the memorial cost $400,000 to build and has room to add another 1,000 names. Someday, the memorial will also include a kiosk with a computer, where visitors can look up specific names from the memorial for more detailed information on each veteran.

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