Fri Jan 5th, 2018
Jeremy Wade Shockley
The Southern Ute Drum
A small ornate statue of a Vietnam solider now greets visitors as they enter the Southern Ute Museum’s ‘Welcome Gallery’. The bronze statuette was expertly crafted by local artist Orland Joe, and branded as ‘The Point Man.’
“In Vietnam, the point man was at the head of the platoon, as the soldiers moved through the jungle. His job was to look out for the enemy, and any possible dangers ahead,” Southern Ute Vietnam Veteran Rod Grove said.
During a Veteran’s Conference in Denver, about eight years ago, Grove heard Stephen D. Bowers, liaison for the Seminole Tribe of Florida; talk about ‘The Three Soldiers’ statue in Washington D.C. and how the American Indian was not represented. He was asking for support, in an effort to add an American Indian to the memorial.
Unfortunately, the National Mall has closed the door on the addition of any further monuments, according to Grove. Never-the-less, Grove continued to pursue the idea of creating a concept for a statue that would represent the American Indian. “I contacted Orland Joe, who liked the idea and followed through with a concept and design, with the approval of the Southern Ute Veterans Association,” Grove said.
The statue is now on display, honoring the Native American solider and the sacrifices that so many individuals made during the Vietnam War.
“It is the first thing that visitors will see,” Southern Ute Museum Exhibits Preparator
Jed Smith said. “It will also flow into the Veteran’s Exhibit, like a teaser. ‘The Point Man’ sparks an interest in the larger exhibit.”
Smith also remarked on the hard work that went into creating a proper display for the bronze statuette.
“Hats off to Building Maintenance and the team, it took a lot to make this happen,” Smith said. “From lighting, to constructing the platform, it takes a big team. That’s what makes the exhibit successful.”
The State of New Mexico is in the process of creating a monument for veterans and is seeking a Native American statue for the proposed memorial according to Grove, who would like to see this concept reach its full potential.
“It is my hope, and that of the Southern Ute Veterans Association, that ‘The Point Man’ statue will be realized in recognition of all the Native Americans who have served this country in times of war,” Grove said.