In the 1990s, Kent Ware, Sr., a respected elder of the Kiowa tribe and leader in the Phoenix Indian community, had a vision to honor his fellow American Indian veterans. Working with noted commercial developer Shelby Austin, Kent formed a plan to finance and construct a site worthy of his comrades in arms and an elegant tribute to warriors from tribes across the United States.
The American Indian Veteran’s Memorial Organization (AIVMO) was created on September 4, 1996, to establish a memorial to honor the American Indian Veteran’s of all wars and to provide a place for veterans, their families and survivors to gather and pay tribute to both living an deceased veterans. In 1998, AIVMO was granted a site to build the memorial at Steele Indian School Park,
A circle within circles represents our Mother Earth, who gave us our first breath and to whom we dedicate our last breath. A pool of water symbolizes that which nourishes our body, soul and spirit. A breath of fire brings the intensity of our being and purpose to its spiritual finality. The blowing wind guides our spirits to other and further dimensions.
Renowned Hopi artist, military veteran and former Phoenix Indian School student, Dennis Numekena, designed the Memorial. It was Mr. Numkena’s intent to capture the spirit of the eagle in his design and incorporate the four elements of creation for a sense of spirituality, those being fire, water, earth and air. These elements of ceremony, a part of the design, will allow for the bringing of the spirits of all beloved warriors home.