The AIVMO Story
It is the desire of the American Indians forming this organization to assure that the lives, blood, and service of their brothers and sisters be not forgotten and that honor of lasting significance is bestowed upon those American Indians who valiantly served our country.
In the 1990’s, 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 local tribal veterans, they formed a plan to finance and construct a site worthy of their comrades in arms and an elegant tribute to warriors from tribes across the United States. Before they could build a National memorial in Phoenix, Arizona, one was built in Washington D.C. AIVMO then decided to use its beautiful design to build a regional memorial that recognized American Indian Veterans in this area.
The American Indian Veteran’s Memorial Organization (AIVMO) was created on September 4, 1996, to establish a memorial to honor all American Indian Veteran’s and to provide a place for veterans, their families and survivors to gather and pay tribute to both living and deceased veterans. In 1998, AIVMO was granted a site to build the memorial at Steele Indian School Park
The Memorial Design
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: fire, water, earth and air. These elements represent bringing the spirits of all beloved warriors home.
The original design was modified to fit the space at Steele Indian School Park without losing any of the spirituality.
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.”
With the creation of Steele Indian School Park in 2001, the City of Phoenix began the unique and challenging task of creating a community park that represents the indigenous principles of balance and interconnectedness. The park itself sits on the land that was once home to the Phoenix Indian School, a boarding school for American Indians from the southwest region from around 1891, until it was closed by the Federal government in 1990.
The park’s beginnings are rooted in the circle, a common concept to all tribes and even to the City of Phoenix itself as it moves towards the future. The memorial will be next to the Hummingbird Lake at Steele Indian School Park.