Our Relationship with Veterans

The Trickster Art Gallery (TAG) and the Native culture have a deep respect for veterans, especially of Native American origin. TAG is dedicated to educating the population about the role that Native veterans have played in the United States’ military history and is working to increase their recognition.

The Chicago area has the third largest off-reservation native population in the United States, with over 104,000 self-identified people in Illinois of Native descent. Since native people make up the largest percentage of any race volunteering for military service, it is important for them to be recognized and given the respect they deserve within the community.

Our Veterans Exhibits & Programs

honorwallAs part of TAG’s permanent “Wall of Honor” exhibit, there is an entire wall dedicated to Native American veterans that shows off their pictures and, when available, the tribe they belong to and where they have served.  There are plans to have this exhibit travel to the Robert R. McCormick Museum and other institutions like local libraries. Incorporated into the exhibit is an interactive touchscreen computer to provide additional information on veterans’ roles in the military and how Native languages have been used in undercover military operations.

Another section of the exhibit is dedicated to photographs from the “Veterans on Ice” events hosted by the Chicago Blackhawks. At this event, Native and Non-Native veterans were honored at the beginning of the games for their service, and as a way to honor the Native history behind the Chicago Blackhawks’ name.

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The “Wall of Honor” is surrounded by a collection of art that Native veterans have produced and it is the first exhibit visitors enter.  TAG has a permanent collection of art from its own resident artist and veteran, Joe Yazzie, along with the art of other visiting veteran artists. Native veteran arts will also be on display through TAG’s program the first week in November at the Thompson Center, which with the right funding and support will become an annual event.

TAG is dedicated to meeting the needs of all local veterans, not only those of Native American descent, by “hearing their voices”. This is embodied within the ongoing veteran’s benefit program. Each month TAG hosts a veteran’s meeting where they and their families can socialize with others who have had similar experiences, and can share these and their feelings within a supportive environment. The programs are also dedicated toward healing and learning, with special guests including professional Medicine Men/Women and specialists in medical and mental health fields willing to give education and support.  The focus is on both traditional and modern forms of healing made possible through association with Jesse Brown VA Hospital, Hines VA Hospital, and other institutions. Our vision includes partnerships with the Wounded Warriors program and Alexian Brothers Hospital Network. Veterans also have the chance to learn skills from each other in veteran-run workshops where they can share their skills and talents.  Through talking, creating, and working together, TAG strives to promote a healthy, fun, and safe place for veterans and their families.  Our goal is to have these events well-staffed with volunteers, as well as qualified individuals with the skill sets required for research and veteran support. In addition, the staff person would gather data based on each veteran to align future programs.

Also for the benefit of veterans, TAG hosts an annual powwow in their honor that is open to the public with the goal of creating awareness for Native and Non-Native veterans. This two-day event promotes positive interactions between veterans and civilians, and alcohol is banned to promote a safe and healthy atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. Other activities hosted for veterans include movie nights, interactive workshops dedicated to skill building, and social restaurant-sponsored gatherings.