nighthorseEveryone has heard of the Navajo code talkers, but what about the Chickasaw and Choctaw code talkers, the code breakers and soldiers from more than a dozen other tribes who fought in WWII and other battles to defend the U.S.?

Former U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell is now in charge of making sure that Americans learn of their sacrifice, and that future generations have a place to memorialize the tribes who fought to protect our freedoms.

Campbell, along with Chickasaw Nation Lt. Gov. Jefferson Keel, has been named co-chairman of an advisory committee to construct a Native American Veterans Memorial as part of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Although only 1.1 percent of the population is Native American, they make up 1.7 percent of the U.S. military, said Campbell, who served in the Korean War.

“We have a bigger proportion of Native Americans in the United States military than any other group in America,” Campbell said.

Campbell wants the memorial to tell the personal stories of those who served, and told the Durango Herald his panel will begin meeting with veterans next year to collect information.

The project will take about five years, and is expected to cost about $10 million, which the committee will raise from private donations.

It’s a worthy cause, and we expect Coloradans to open up their wallets and donate generously. When the panel creates a fundraising page, we’ll let you know where to send the money.