There are more than enough stories to tell from the often dark history of this nation’s relations with the Native American peoples from the beginning to the present. Yet there is no other ethnic group in this great nation that has offered a greater percentage of its young men and women in military service to this nation in all of its most difficult times.
And still they serve.
This is a powerful video taken at a powwow. At these powwows, military veterans are always held in the highest regard. They lead the parades into the arenas, and, as you will see here, they are given the opportunity to dance in their own traditional styles. They do so while proudly wearing the uniforms of their various military branches they serve, or served in, with whatever tribal accoutrements they wish to bring in order to identify with their various tribal heritages. The chanting is proud and vigorous and the audience appreciation is one of sincere pride and joy. They are honoring their warriors.
I am dedicating this video to all of our Native American brothers and sisters who have served and fought in all of the branches of the United States military. But I want to dedicate it to two individuals and one very special group in particular.
The first is Ira Hayes who proudly helped to raise the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima during WWII. He was a Marine paratrooper and a member of the Pima, or the River People, of Arizona.
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The second individual is Lori Piestewa. She was born on the Navajo Reservation in Coconino County, Arizona. In her childhood, she was given the Hopi name Qotsa-Hon-Mana, meaning White Bear Girl. She joined the U.S Army after 9/11. She was in the Quartermaster Corps during the Iraq War. She was killed in action early in the Iraq War, on March 23, 2003, during the same attack in which both Shoshona Johnson and Jessica Lynch were injured and captured temporarily held as POWs. Piestewa became the first Native American woman to be killed in action in United States military history.
The Native American Code Talkers are the group that I also want to dedicate this video to. Most know about the Navajo Code Talkers in the United States Marine Corps and their storied history in the South Pacific theater of WWII. But they were not the only Native American Code Talkers. Members of at least 16 Native American peoples were code talkers during WWII. But code talking has a longer history too. Code talking was actually pioneered by Cherokee and Choctaw peoples during WWI. Over 400 Code Talkers served in WWII. As of May of 2019, only 7 living Code Talkers remained alive.
Please enjoy the pride of United States military service and of Native American culture that you will see here in this video.
The Veterans Site sends its deepest respect and heartfelt thanks to all our Native American military veterans and to those currently serving in all of the branches of our military. We are humbled by your desire to serve. We, your fellow veterans who have served with you, remain Fratres Aeterni, brothers forever.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.