Listen to the 30 sec radio PSA:

Listen to the 15 sec radio PSA:

Dates: July 21st – July 23rd

Join us at Cantigny Park in at 1s151 Winfield Road in Wheaton, IL for a weekend of healing and learning. Veterans families, children, and general public are all welcome to learn and hear the ‘Untold Stories’. If you are a veteran, you must register for the event at this link or in person on the day of to get your wristband. Wristbands allow access to free special meals and beverages. Want to support the effort to bring Code Talkers to the event this year? Donate towards their travel expenses here. Are you a Vietnam veteran? Do you know a Vietnam veteran? A representative from the Pentagon will be at the National Gathering to pin all Vietnam veterans and welcome them home on Saturday at the event. You can find more information about the pinning here. If you would like to submit the name of a Native veteran that has passed for it to be read out at the gathering, you can fill out the ‘In Memory Of’ form here, or click on the ‘In Memory Of’ tab on the left.


Hilton Lisle/Naperville
3003 Corporate West Drive, Lisle, Il, 60532
Hotel (630) 505-0900, Direct (630) 245-7644
$99 rates, $89 for veterans (use code: “Native Veteran” or “CNVT” with a veteran ID or medical card and ID. Rate is good for July 20th – July 23rd).
Scheduled transportation is provided to/from the event.
Rough camping at Cantigny is available for veterans only.


Friday, July 21st
For veterans and their immediate families, there will be a free traditional dinner served at Cantigny park. There will be a key speakers during dinner and dessert. If you would like to attend, you must RSVP by June 30th while completing the registry form. Attire will be informal.

5:00 pm – 8:30 pm: Welcome Dinner at Cantigny
6:00 pm: Opening Prayer by a Pokagon Veteran as the representative of the Tribe of this land
6:15 pm: Greeting by Mark Cleveland, Mike Pamonicutt, and Joe Podlasek
6:30 pm: Welcome by Dan King
6:45 pm: Lou Marsico, McCormick Foundation
7:00 pm: Gary Besaw, Menominee Tribal Chairman
7:15 pm: Representative Michelle Mussman, Historical Reading, Eagle Staff Resolution
7:30 pm: Flag Song and National Anthem
7:45 pm: Chris Czopek, Civil War Historian
*Each Guest Speaker/Workshop Lead will introduce themselves and will say a few words to set the tone for discussion Saturday and Sunday

Saturday, July 22nd
8:30 am: Veteran Roll Call
8:50 am: Welcome by David Hiller, McCormick Foundation
9:00 am: Formal Grand Entry
10:30 am – 2:30 pm: Town Hall
11:00 am – 2:00 pm: Horse presentation, followed by Native storytelling and workshops for families (simultaneous to Town Hall meetings)
2:30 pm: Untold Stories of WWI and WWII Code Talkers and Charles Shay WWII first waive D-Day survivor (video)
3:30 pm: Pinning Ceremony; General Jackson of the Pentagon Vietnam Commemorative Committee will pin every Vietnam Veteran and welcome them home on behalf of the USA
4:30 pm: Town Hall Panels Recapitulation (feedback, questions, answers, discussion)
5:35 pm: Dinner and live music
7:30 pm: Dance for and with our Veterans (powwow style)
Sun set: Retiring of Colors
9:00 pm: Closing

Sunday, July 23rd
7:30 am: Health Walk with Veterans
8:00 am: Breakfast at Cantigny Park
8:50 am: Welcome by Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi
9:00 am: Formal Grand Entry
10:00 am: Review, call for action from Veterans’ voices
12:00: Retiring of Flags and Colors
12:30 pm: Ending

*Invite to Trickster Art Gallery from 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm for informal meeting and Blues concert

Click on the image above for a printable PDF

Speakers and Honored Guests Include:

Mark Denning


Marin Webster Denning is enrolled in the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin. His ancestry includes Menominee, Mille Lacs Ojibwe, Stockbridge-Munsee, French and English. Marin served as the Executive Director of Southeastern Oneida Tribal Services, a full-spectrum social service provider for Oneida tribal members. He is nationally recognized as a leading educator, lecturer and curriculum specialist in American Indian history and culture.

Marin served on the board of directors at Milwaukee’s Indian Community School, a flagship institution of Urban American Indian education, and during his tenure, the school was the recipient of the National Indian School Board Association Award for being a School Board of the Year. He also served as an adviser on the Gates Millennium Educational Foundation and is a board member of Indian Summer Festival. He is a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee – in the school of education, and serves as a consultant and trainer with Boeing Corporation and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Saginaw Grant

Native Korean War Veteran, Actor

Saginaw is a respected member of the Sac-n-Fox, Iowa and Otoe-Missouria Nations. In 1936, Saginaw Morgan Grant was born to Sarah and Austin Grant Sr. at Pawnee Indian Hospital in Pawnee, Oklahoma. He was raised on a farm in Cushing, Oklahoma with two brothers and one sister.

Major General James T. Jackson

U.S. Army (Retired), Director of The United States of american Vietnam War Commemoration

Major General James T. Jackson, U.S. Army (Retired), serves as the Director of The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. This national effort was instituted by the U.S. Government under the auspices of the Department of Defense to do what should have been done 50 years ago: thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice.

MG Jackson initially joined the Commemoration staff in 2012 as a senior adviser. In this capacity, the General helped develop partnerships with federal, state, and local communities, veterans’ groups and other nongovernmental organizations. Today, more than 10,000 Commemorative Partners across the country are committed to assisting the nation in recognizing our 7 million living Vietnam veterans and the 9 million families of those who served from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975. Read More

MG Jackson military career began in 1971, as an Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) graduate from Kent State University. Serving in the Army for 32 years, his assignments took him around the world, including postings with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Fort Lewis, Washington; the Republic of Korea; and as an Army ROTC instructor at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. MG Jackson also commanded a wide variety of U.S. Army units, including the 1st Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; the 3rd Ranger Battalion and 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Georgia; and The U.S. Army Military District of Washington.

Upon retirement from the U.S. Army, MG Jackson worked as a senior executive in the public sector for two different companies and participated in a three-month deployment in Iraq to support the Coalition Provisional Authority. After serving for eight years, he retired from the public sector.

Doug Ngyuyen

Regional Communications Director: Chicago, Social Security Administration

Doug M. Nguyen is the Regional Communications Director who oversees the public affairs program for the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) six-state Chicago Region. His federal career started in 1994 as a Claims Representative and Public Affairs Specialist for the Chicago Metro area.

Doug is an alumnus of SSA’s Advanced and Operations Leadership Programs in which he held assignments in multiple cross-components, including the Office of the Regional Chief Administrative Law Judge, the Great Lakes Processing Center, the Office of Systems, and the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs. Doug has received numerous federal awards, including the Social Security Administration’s Commissioner’s and Regional Commissioner Citations, and he was a previous recipient of the Federal Executive Board of Chicago’s Award for Outstanding Community Service.

Alfred K. Newman

Navajo Code Talker; 3rd Marine Division, WWII

Alfred Newman was born in 1924 and served in the United State Marine Corps during WWII. He grew up in Coolidge, New Mexico with three sisters and two brothers. He enlisted in the Marine Corps at 18 and served as a Code Talker with other Navajo servicemen.

Dan King

President of Wisconsin Indian Veterans Association, National Congress of American Indians

Juanita Mullen

Liaison for AI/AN Veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs

Charles Norman Shay

Penobscot Tribal Elder, Writer & Decorated Veteran of World War II and the Korean War

Charles Norman Shay is a tribal elder in the Penobscot Indian Nation and a combat veteran of several wars. Born on 27 June 1924 in Bristol, Connecticut, he is the eighth of nine children of Leo Shay and Florence Nicolar, daughter of Joseph Nicolar, author of the 1893 classic book Life and Traditions of the Red Man.

In April 1943, almost a year after graduation from Old Town High School, Charles was drafted into the US Army and trained as combat medic. After frontline duty in the battles of Aachen, Huertgen Forest, Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge) and the Rhine (near Remagen), He was captured in the Sieg Valley, spending nearly a month in German prison camps. Shay was liberated on 18 April. In 1950, he was assigned to the Medical Company of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 7th Regiment, which was sent to Japan when the Korean War broke out. Promoted to Master Sergeant, Shay received the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters for Valor and was nominated for a second Silver Star. Read More

Six months after his honorable discharge from the US Army, Shay joined the US Air Force Reserve in February 1952 and a year later became an active-duty Master Sergeant. Shay’s last active duty military position was at the US Air Force hospital at Sembach, the Cold War airbase for the Tactical Missile Wing in Germany.

At age 60, after 20 years with the IAEA, Shay retired from that United Nations (UN) agency. Since then, he has dedicated himself to preserving and promoting Penobscot cultural heritage. In addition to running a small museum in his tipi, he has also published booklets by and about Penobscots, and facilitated in the publication of a new edition of his grandfather’s book, Life and Traditions of the Red Man (Duke University Press, with a Preface by Shay). On 6 November 2007, the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, personally awarded him the prestigious medal distinguishing this Penobscot Indian combat veteran of Omaha Beach as a Chevalier in the Légion d’Honneur.

Lorenda T Sanchez

Executive Director of California Indian Manpower Consortium, Inc.

Lorenda T. Sanchez has dedicated the past 40 years to the administration of Indian job training efforts and enhancing the lives of Native Americans. She began her initial job training administrative experience in August of 1972 with the Public Employment Program (PEP), Neighborhood Youth Corps (NYC), and Operation Mainstream Program funded under the U.S. Department of Labor.

From the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) Program to the current Work-force Investment Act (WIA) Program, Ms. Sanchez estimates that the programs under her administration have benefited 100,000 individuals and impacted the lives of their respective families. Service to the community and improving the conditions which exist through Indian Country has always remained a priority. Read More

Since late 1977, Ms. Sanchez has served as the Executive Director of the California Indian Manpower Consortium, Inc. The Consortium is the largest Native American social and human service organization in the United States, encompassing a geographic service area of 97 reservations and 39 counties throughout California, the State of Illinois, and Clinton, Muscatine and Scott Counties in Iowa. Through a combination of adult and youth workforce development, child care, services to Indian elders, community services, and global, tribal, and Native entrepreneurial opportunities, she continues to focus her efforts on addressing these needs of Native Americans.

While being proud of her Northern Paiute heritage, Ms. Sanchez believes that her most cherished accomplishment is that her six children have pursued higher education and four of the six who have attained their degrees are committed to work in service of Indian communities.

Lt. Colonel Jon Sowards

U.S. Army, Central Region Director, Soldier for Life Program

Entertainers Include:

*Additional performer information to come

Mark ClevelandMark Cleveland

Mark Cleveland provides a unique entertainment experience. Audiences respond to the storytelling lyrics, uniquely delivered in songs woven from the Native American tradition, World Culture and contemporary American Life. Audiences return to experience full powered vocal presence of this accomplished Singer Songwriter and World Musician.

Performing for the Dali Lama and in other international events, Mark Cleveland is a repeat performer at the World Music Festival, Millennium Park, Navy Pier and in major Chicago venues like the Old Town School or Shuba’s. Accomplishments include composing the soundtrack for the Field Museum’s Ancient Americas exhibit, recording with Yo Yo Ma’s Cross Roads project, sharing the stage with Golden Globe and NAMA Award Winner Bill Miller and Wade Fernandez on tour. His music has been featured on Chicago and U.S. media, and internationally on Web Streaming Radio.

Jim Cornelison

Jim Cornelison is the National Anthem singer for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Wade Fernandez

“Your life is all that you’ve touched, all that has touched you and all that came before you. You only really live it when you learn to listen to its music.” WF

Born on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin, USA. Wade grew up in a house surrounded by dense forest. “I could walk through the trees for maybe 6 miles behind the house and not see another human being. After crossing the road in front of the house, I could probably walk another 10 miles and once again, see only forest and animals.” The Menominee Reservation is over 95% forest and the roots of Wade’s inspiration.

Wade’s first attempt at playing music came at the age of 5. His dad sat him down in front of a record player, handed over a “huge” acoustic guitar and said try to figure out this song. It was “Apache” by the Shadows. Young Wade thought cool an Indian song, but after 10 minutes of having no clue, he decided to give it up. But then at 11 years old, Wade decided to pick up the guitar and started a band on the rez with his cousin Quint. Since then he has won several national/international awards and scholarships for music and other forms of artistic expression (including video and writing). Wade toured Europe several times, played and produced CDs, and played many styles of music before he decided to go to college and further his study of music. Currently, Wade has a degree in Music Education with a teacher’s certification, manages an active music career, works a GEAR UP job for students on the Menominee Indian Reservation, is a member of the Menominee Indian School Board, working on several film projects, writing a play, teaches native flute/guitar/bass/rock band classes, and is raising a beautiful family of 5 children with his wife on the reservation.

Bill MillerBill Miller

Bill is a three time Grammy Award Winner and a Native American singer/songwriter of Mohican heritage. He was born on the Stockbridge-Munseereservation, near Shawano in northern Wisconsin. Miller’s Mohican name is Fush-Ya Heay Aka (meaning “bird song”). He began playing guitar when he was 12 years old, and is an accomplished player of the Native American flute.

In 1973, he moved to Milwaukee and won an art school scholarship; today he is an accomplished artist whose drawings and paintings have been widely praised. In 1984, he moved to Nashville. His biggest break came when popular musician Tori Amos, after listening to his Red Road CD on her tour bus, asked him to serve as the opening act on her Under the Pink tour.

Miller continuously gained fans with other artists from a broad musical spectrum. He went on to tour with diverse musicians such as Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, The BoDeans, Richie Havens, and Arlo Guthrie and wrote songs with artists such as Nanci Griffith, Peter Rowan and Kim Carnes. In 2005, Miller’s instrumental Cedar Dream Songs won a Grammy Award for Best Native American Music Album.

Dawn O’Keefe Williams & Three Off the Leash

Dawn O’Keefe Williams, a diversified singer, will rock your blues away! Her style of music is universal, and has been recognized by Billboard with an Award of Achievement for her original song STONE COLD FOOL. Dawn mixes her blues with Rock, R&B, Jazz, Pop and Reggae in her performances. Her style of music sounds like “Bonnie Raitt meets Etta James”; yet Dawn has a distinctive sound all her own from sultry velvety tones to belting it out with an incredibly powerful voice.

When it comes to entertaining Dawn has only the best well-seasoned musicians backing her. As Entertainment Plus Agency stated… “Your vocal style, the music you selected and your band arrangements were perfect for our diverse audience of all ages.” You will find Dawn at some of the finest venues in the Chicagoland area such as Navy Pier, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago Blues Festival, Taste of Chicago, festivals and more. Dawn’s self-titled CD has received airplay on several major markets in the U.S., as well as in Europe.

Beena Wilhelmsen

With a passion for oratorio and concert work, Indian-American mezzo-soprano Beena Wilhelmsen has performed as a soloist internationally with the Coro Filarmonico di Pesaro, and locally with the Lakeview Orchestra, the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, and the Harper Festival. She has also performed with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Grant Park Music Festival, the Lira Ensemble, VOX 3 Collective, and operatic roles for the South Shore Opera Company, Chicago Cultural Center, and La Musica Lirica in Italy. Beena also enjoys performing at various sporting events, having sung the American and Canadian anthems for the Chicago Bears, Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Rush, and Chicago Fire.

Jack Wilson

Guitar fingerpicking champion Jack Wilson will be interpreting classic rock standards and more. Watch and be amazed at how he plays the bass line, chords and melody all at the same time on one guitar.

Aztec Dancers

Drum: Chicago Association

Maori Dancers

Sponsors Include:

American Indian Cancer Foundation

The American Indian Cancer Foundation supports innovative, community-based interventions that engage Native populations in the discovery of their own cancer best practices.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.​

Cantigny Park

Cantigny is a 500-acre park in Wheaton, Illinois, 30 miles west of Chicago. It is the former estate of Joseph Medill and his grandson Colonel Robert R. McCormick and is open to the public.

Comcast/NBC Universal

NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience.

Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks Charities supports programs and institutions throughout Illinois that work towards creating a better tomorrow.

First Division Museum

The First Division Museum has been a part of Cantigny Park and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation since 1960. The original museum was housed in what is now the Cantigny Park Visitors Center.

First Nations Women Warriors

First Nations Women Warriors is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. They are a group of professional Native Women Veterans who are focused on helping Veterans through guidance and resources.

Four Winds Casinos

Four Winds Casinos are entertainment venues all owned and operated by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

Gun Lake Tribe

The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe) is part of the historic Three Fires Confederacy, an alliance of the Pottawatomi (Bodewadmi), Ottawa (Odawa), and Chippewa (Ojibwe).

Helix Camera & Video

Photography shop stocking a wide array of high-end cameras & gear for beginning & advanced shooters. They have a space available for photography classes, workshops, new product demonstrations, and more.

Inter-Tribal Council of AT&T Employees

This group has made a cultural development arena which helps with career advancement and education, and encourages a better understanding of all employees, more specifically Native Americans.


KeyBank is an American regional bank headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. They have 160+ years of doing work that matters for their clients, communities and employees by building enduring relationships.

Meier Clinics

The Christian counseling professionals at Meier Clinics help people struggling with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, stress, and trauma. They treat the whole person— emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Mohegan Sun Casino

Mohegan Sun, created in 1996 by the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, features some of New England’s finest dining, hotel accommodations, retail shopping, live entertainment and sporting events.

National Native American Veterans Memorial

This memorial created by the National Museum of the American Indian is intended to give all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud tradition of service of Native Americans in the Armed Forces.

Pala Band of Mission Indians

The 12,273-acre reservation is located in northern San Diego County, established for Cupeño and Luiseño Indians, who consider themselves to be one proud people — Pala.


PepsiCo is one of the world’s leading food and beverage companies. Their food and beverage portfolio includes 22 brands, and their products are sold in over 200 countries and territories.

Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex.

PepsiCo RISE

RISE is PepsiCo’s Native American Employee Resource Group.


VALOR recognizes, appreciates and supports PepsiCo’s veterans, military members, their families, and the communities in which they live and work.

PNC Bank

PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. is a Pittsburgh-based financial services corporation. For 160+ years, they have been committed to providing their clients with great service and powerful financial expertise.

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi

Pokagon citizens have long sustained their culture and connection to their homeland; numerous place-names in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan continually reflect that connection.

Robert R. McCormick Foundation

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is part of the legacy of Col. Robert R. McCormick, the long-time editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines Co. is a major U.S. airline, the world’s largest low-cost carrier, headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

Trickster Art Gallery

Trickster Gallery was established on March 5, 2005 to create a unique contemporary view of Native arts, cultural education and awareness.


Tyson Foods has grown over the years and decades to find new ways to help feed the nation, with the belief that every family deserves to bring quality chicken to their table.

United Airlines

United is an American airline headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. It is the world’s third-largest airline when measured by revenue.

Members of the Event Committee Include:

  • Joseph Podlasek (Organizer)
  • Mike Pamonicutt (Commander, Native Veteran Group)
  • Kara Marselle (Secretary)
  • Joe L. Yazzie
  • Phil Valenzo
  • Elizabeth Wimmer
  • Wil Garza
  • Angel Salas-Reveles
  • Crystal Karp
  • Leto Minowa
  • Jody Frauggia
  • Theresa Seidel
  • Eve Muir-Wilson
  • Tina Aragon
  • Marco Dabetic
  • Sheila Winters
  • Lisa Davis
  • Dawn O’Keefe Williams
  • Nicholas Schaaf
  • Emily Farr

Members of the Host Committee Include:

Kevin Brown

Tribal Councilor, and Chairman of Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority at Mohegan Sun

Marty Castro

Former Chairman US Civil Rights Commission at the White House, Current: Castro Synergies, LLC

Jeffrey A. Coady

Psy.D., CAPT, U.S. Public Health Service, Regional Administrator (Region V), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Jack Detzel

PepsiCo Director Supply Chain Capability & Optimization, President of PepsiCo VALOR

Senator Tammy Duckworth

U.S. Senator, Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient, and former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs

Megan Everett

Veterans Program Director at Robert R. McCormick Foundation

First Nations Women Warriors

Native Women Veterans

Anthony Foerster

Pokagon Band of Patowatomi Indians Tribal Historian

Pete Hassen

Vice President of Marketing, Chicago Blackhawks

Paul Herbert

Executive Director, First Division Museum at Cantigny

Dan King

President of Wisconsin Indian Veterans Association, National Congress of American Indians

Debra Marton

Senior Manager of Community Investment, Comcast

Steven Milhiot

PepsiCo, President of PepsiCo Rise

Juanita J. Mullen

Liaison for AI/AN Veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs

Debbie P Rafael

Jesse Brown VA Medical Center

Peter Vicaire

Tribal Government Relations Specialist, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Eli Williamson

Chair and Co-Founder of Leave No Veteran Behind

Submit A Name for Our “In Memory Of” List

Fill our form at this link with the name of a native veteran you would like recognized, and their name will be posted in our ‘In Memory Of’ section below. All names submitted will be read out at the National Gathering of American Indian Veterans to be recognized.

In Memory Of

  • Duke O’Shogay, Army Sgt, Vietnam, LCO – Ojibwe
  • George Warrington, Marines Staff Sgt, Vietnam, Menominee
  • Clarence Eliot Brown, Army, WWI, Cherokee
  • Chucky Oshogay, Army Private, Korea, LCO – Ojibwe
  • Floyd Gendron Sr, Army Private, WWII, Colville Tribes
  • Floyd Gendron Jr, Navy Medic, Vietnam, Colville Tribes
  • Garfield T Brown, Army Cpl, WWII, Oglala Lakota Sioux
  • William H Carufel Jr., USMM/USCG Lieutenant Junior Grade, WWII, LDF Ojibwe
  • Gilbert Whittemore, US Navy Chief Petty Officer, Korean/Vietnam, Navajo/Apache
  • George Underwook, Army Air Corps Captain, WWII, Cherokee