Native American Veterans: 5 Facts You May Not Know
Despite an often-troubled relationship with the government of the United States, Native American warriors have played an important role in the military history of the nation, with service stretching back as far as the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, years before Native Americans would be recognized as US citizens. Statistics show that they have volunteered and served in higher percentages than any other ethnicity, and their special skills and warrior culture have resulted in pivotal benefits and victories for the US Armed Forces, along with a long list of honors and medals.
Here are five facts about Native American veterans that you may not know.
There will be a new National Monument to honor them, opening on Veterans Day, 2020.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian plans on honoring American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian servicemen and women with a prominent memorial on the National Mall, a place that draws nearly 24 million visitors annually to Washington, D.C. The new National Native American Veterans Memorial will be located on the grounds of the museum, between the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol. The museum is working with Native American veterans, tribal leaders, historians, members of Congress, and cultural experts to complete the memorial, which will be accompanied by a mobile educational exhibition that will travel through the U.S. in the years leading up to the memorial’s opening. An extensive, multi-day dedication ceremony is planned to dedicate the memorial in 2020, including a procession of Native American veterans on the National Mall. Congress has determined that the memorial must be designed and constructed without the use of federal funds, so the team working on the memorial is currently seeking donations from civilians, veterans, and corporations.
A higher percentage of Native Americans served post-9/11 than any other ethnicity.
After 9/11, almost 19% of Native Americans served in the Armed Forces, compared to 14% of other ethnicities. Currently, there are more than 31,000 American Indian and Alaska Native men and women are on active duty today, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world. An estimated 12,000 Native Americans served in WWI (despite not being recognized American Citizens), 44,000 Native Americans served in World War II (when the entire population of Native Americans was less than 350,000 at the time), and 42,000 Native Americans served in the Vietnam War (90% of them volunteers). Today, there are an estimated 140,000 Native American veterans living, many of whom are Purple Heart recipients, Bronze Star medal honorees, and even Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, the highest military award of the United States.
Native American have played an important role from the birth of the United States.
More details are emerging showing the importance of female Native American veterans in US military history, reaching as far back as the American Revolution. Historians have only recently rediscovered and verified the actions of an Oneida woman, Tyonajanegen, at the battle of Oriskany during the American Revolution (1775-1783). Tyonajanegen was married to an American Army officer of Dutch descent and fought at her husband’s side on horseback during the battle, relodading his gun for him after he was shot in the wrist. During WWI, 14 Native American women served in the Army Nurse Corps, with two of them serving overseas. Throughout WWII, nearly 800 Native American women served with units like the Army Corps, the Army Nurse Corps, and the WAVES. Today 11.5% of living Native American veterans are female, compared to 8% of other ethnicities. The Women In Military Service For America Memorial in Arlington is working to encourage Native American female veterans to register (800-222-2294 or 703-533-1155) and add their stories to those they are collecting of the honorable service of Native American Women.
The VA supports programs specific to Native American veterans.
According to the Department of Defense, American Indians, and Alaska Natives have one of the highest representations in the armed forces. The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA )consults with American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments to develop partnerships that enhance access to services and benefits for veterans and their families. In addition to the regular benefits available to all U.S. veterans, Native American veterans may be eligible for the Native American Direct Loan (NADL) Program that helps finance the purchase, construction, or improvement of homes on Federal Trust Land or reduce the interest rate on a VA loan. Additionally the VA Office of Tribal Government Relations (OTGR) consults with American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments to develop partnerships that help educate and train Tribal leaders and Veteran Service Organizations to increase access and enhance VA healthcare, services, and benefits for Native American veterans and their families.
More than 30 other tribes served as Code Talkers, in addition to the Navajo Tribe.
Despite not becoming US citizens until June 2, 1924, the first reported use of Native Americans as code talkers was on October 17, 1918 during World War I, nearly 24 years after the Battle of the Little Big Horn. In 2000, Navajo Code Talkers were honored with Congressional Gold Medals for their services in developing and implementing their traditional Dine’ language as a secret code of communication on the battlefields in both WWI and WWII. Their story was later told in the award-winning feature film, Windtalkers. However, many Americans do not know that members of nearly 32 other Indian tribes served as codetalkers in World War I and World War II and have never been formally recognized for their service to the country. Tribes serving as codetalkers during both the Pacific and European campaigns included Comanche, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Osage, Lakota, Dakota, Chippewa, Oneida, Sac and Fox, Meskwaki, Hopi, Assiniboine, Kiowa, Pawnee, Akwesasne, Menominee, Creek, Cree Seminole Tribes and other unlisted tribes. In World War II, additional tribes aided in the code talker efforts, including Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe, and Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe.
Courtesy of VETERAN AID
You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. – Navajo
The Navajo are speakers of a Na-Dené Southern Athabaskan language they call Diné bizaad (lit. ‘People’s language’). The language comprises two geographic, mutually intelligible dialects. The Apache language is closely related to the Navajo language; the Navajo and Apache are believed to have migrated from northwestern Canada and eastern Alaska, where the majority of Athabaskan speakers reside. Speakers of various other Athabaskan languages located in Canada may still comprehend the Navajo language despite the geographic and linguistic deviation of the languages. Additionally, some Navajo speak Navajo Sign Language, which is either a dialect or daughter of Plains Sign Talk. Some also speak Plains Sign Talk itself.
Archaeological and historical evidence suggests the Athabaskan ancestors of the Navajo and Apache entered the Southwest around 1400 CE. The Navajo oral tradition is said[by whom?] to retain references to this migration.
Until contact with the Pueblo and the Spanish peoples, the Navajo were largely hunters and gatherers. The tribe adopted crop-farming techniques from the Pueblo peoples, growing mainly the traditional “Three Sisters” of corn, beans, and squash. After the Spanish colonists influenced the people, the Navajo began keeping and herding livestock—sheep and goats—as a main source of trade and food. Meat became an essential component of the Navajo diet. Sheep also became a form of currency and status symbols among the Navajo based on the overall quantity of herds a family maintained. In addition, women began to spin and weave wool into blankets and clothing; they created items of highly valued artistic expression, which were also traded and sold.
Oral history indicates a long relationship with Pueblo people and a willingness to incorporate Puebloan ideas and linguistic variance into their culture. There were long-established trading practices between the groups. Spanish records from the mid-16th century recount the Pueblo exchanging maize and woven cotton goods for bison meat, hides, and stone from Athabaskans traveling to the pueblos or living in their vicinity. In the 18th century, the Spanish reported the Navajo maintaining large herds of livestock and cultivating large crop areas.
Western historians believe that the Spanish before 1600 referred to the Navajo as Apaches (from the Zuni word for “enemy”) or Quechos.:2–4 Fray Geronimo de Zarate-Salmeron, who was in Jemez in 1622, used Apachu de Nabajo in the 1620s to refer to the people in the Chama Valley region, east of the San Juan River and northwest of present-day Santa Fe, New Mexico. Navahu comes from the Tewa language, meaning a large area of cultivated lands.:7–8 By the 1640s, the Spanish began using the term Navajo to refer to the Diné.
During the 1670s, the Spanish wrote that the Diné lived in a region known as Dinétah, about sixty miles (100 km) west of the Rio Chama valley region. In the 1770s, the Spanish sent military expeditions against the Navajo in the Mount Taylor and Chuska Mountain regions of New Mexico.:43–50 The Spanish, Navajo and Hopi continued to trade with each other and formed a loose alliance to fight Apache and Commanche bands for the next twenty years. During this time there were relatively minor raids by Navajo bands and Spanish citizens against each other.
In 1800 Governor Chacon led 500 men in an expedition to the Tunicha Mountains against the Navajo. Twenty Navajo chiefs asked for peace. In 1804 and 1805 the Navajo and Spanish mounted major expeditions against each other’s settlements. In May 1805 another peace was established. Similar patterns of peace-making, raiding, and trading among the Navajo, Spanish, Apache, Comanche, and Hopi continued until the arrival of Americans in 1846.
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The Blackfoot, who are also called Blackfeet, Indians were originally a nomadic American Indian tribe that migrated from the Great Lakes region to the Northwestern United States. They lived in the Northern Great Plains, specifically in Montana and Idaho as well as Alberta Canada. What started out as one nation, evolved over time into four distinct and independent tribes, each with their own government. Because of similar geographic regions how they live, including clothing style, weapons, and food is very similar. Currently, there is one Blackfoot reservation with a population of about 10,000 Indians in the U.S. and another 15,000 live in Canada. Below we have listed interesting facts and information about these Great Plains Indians.
- North Peigan Pikuni
General Blackfoot Indian Facts
- The Blackfoot Indians were skilled huntsmen. They primarily hunted buffalo like many other Plains Indians and traveled in groups, when hunting, to cover as much territory as possible.
- In the 1800’s, the white men began hunting buffalo as well and caused the population to decrease drastically. Over 600 Blackfoot Indians starved to death as a consequence of their dependence on the almost extinct buffalo.
- Each of the four tribes, although independent, share one official language called Algonquian. This language is also spoken by many other Indian tribes in the U.S.
- The Europeans arrival in the 1800’s meant big changes for the Blackfoot. On one hand, they brought horses with them which were invaluable to the Blackfoot because it enabled them to hunt buffalo much easier than on foot or by dog sled. But, they also brought disease that was devastating to the Blackfoot population. The Europeans passed on small pox and measles to the Indians and wiped out a significant percent of the population.
- The Blackfoot Indians are very spiritual and believe strongly in supernatural powers. They believe that everything has a spirit, whether alive or inanimate and can be good or evil.
- The Blackfoots most important spiritual ceremony is the Sun Dance. It’s a yearly event that takes place during the summer. It was also known as the Medicine Lodge Ceremony. It centers around dancing, singing, prayer and fasting, with the buffalo being the highlight of the ceremony. Because they relied on buffalo so much, the ceremony was a way to honor the buffalo.
- The Blackfeet were known for mastering several forms of art including embroidery, basket making and beading. Not only did art decorate their clothing, but it could also be seen on their colorful teepees and different types of everyday tools.
- The type of jewelry that women wore most often was earrings. They were usually made of seashell or semi-precious metals. Elk tusks were a prized possession and women wore them as decorations on their dresses. Men who achieved a certain level of status in a tribe would wear a grizzly bear paw on a necklace.
- Clothing almost always included some part of animal hide or skin. Temperatures in the northern region got cold and the hide provided warmth.
- War clothing was elaborate. Porcupine quills were often woven into the clothing and it was often decorated with beadwork and fringe as a status symbol.
- The Blackfoot population was known for being difficult to get along with. They fought with those living in close proximity to them including the Assiniboine, Cree, Crows, Flatheads, Kutenai, and the Sioux.
- Crowfoot, a famous Blackfoot Indian Chief and warrior, was responsible for signing a peace treaty with the Canadian government. Of the many battles he fought, he felt that the toughest battle was one he fought (and could not win) against alcoholism among his people.
- Kalani Queypo is a well-known actor with a Blackfoot heritage. He can be seen in movies such as The Royal Tenenbaums and The Juror.
Day and night cannot dwell together. – Duwamish
History of the Duwamish Tribe
The region now known as Seattle has been inhabited since the end of the last glacial period (c. 8,000 BCE.: 10,000 years ago). Archaeological excavations at West Point in Discovery Park, Magnolia confirm that the Seattle area has been inhabited by humans for at least 4,000 years and probably much longer. West Point was called Oka-dz-elt-cu, Per-co-dus-chule, or Pka-dzEltcu. The village of tohl-AHL-too (“herring house”) had been inhabited at least since the 6th century CE, as had hah-AH-poos—”where there are horse clams“—at the then-mouth of the Duwamish River in what is now the Industrial District. The Lushootseed (Skagit-Nisqually)-speaking Salish Dkhw‘Duw’Absh (“People of the Inside”) and Xacuabš (“People of the Large Lake”)—ancestors of today’s Duwamish Tribe—occupied at least 17 villages in the mid-1850s and lived in some 93 permanent longhouses (khwaac’ál’al) along the lower Duwamish River, Elliott Bay, Salmon Bay, Portage Bay, Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, and the Duwamish River tributaries, the Black and Cedar Rivers.
Tens of people lived in each longhouse; forerunners of cohousing, they were cooperatives of extended families that were quite unlike the single or single family cabins of White American settlements. The villages were traditionally larger than they might have first appeared to White settlers, since Coast Salish people had, in recent decades before extensive White settlement (c. 1774–1864), experienced some 62% losses due to introduced diseases. For comparison, the catastrophic Spanish flu Pandemic of 1918–19 took an estimated 2.5%–5% mortality worldwide; about 28% of the U.S. population contracted the Spanish flu.
Like many Northwest Coast natives, the Dkhw‘Duw’Absh and Xacuabš relied heavily on fishing for their well-being and their livelihood: the Pacific Northwest fisheries were once one of the richest in the world, second only to the Grand Banks. Remnants of Dkhw‘Duw’Absh fishing gear were found near the abundant tide pools of sbuh-KWAH-buks (“shaped like a bear’s head”, the West Seattle peninsula). The site is in what is now called Me-Kwa-Mooks Park, where dense trees provide habitat for many birds including screech owls. Me-Kwa-Mooks Park is about 1 mi. (1.6 km) west of Camp Long in the south of the Alki neighborhood of West Seattle, (map ). Up the hill, a 50-acre (20 hectare) stand of massive, old-growth Douglas fir and western red cedar—many towering more than 200 feet (61 m), their roots carpeted by sword ferns and salal—survived the clear cutting of Seattle. The fragment of forest in Schmitz Park (1908–1912) is a living reminder of what much of Seattle looked like before the City of Seattle.
From the 1800s the Maritime Fur Trade opened access to European goods for rival northern tribes from Vancouver Island and the Georgia Strait). Having guns prompted their more effective raiding south, deep into recently named Puget Sound, in turn prompting social and organizational change. The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) established Fort Langley (1827), then Fort Nisqually (1833) near present-day Dupont, within easy range and prompting keen interest in trade. As a young man, Si’ahl (later called Chief Seattle) made himself both well-known and notorious around Fort Nisqually. Catholic missionaries began arriving in 1839, settlers in earnest from 1845. In 19th century maneuvering with European Great Powers, the United States assumed regional sovereignty in 1846. White settlements at sbuh-KWAH-buks (Alki) and what is now Pioneer Square in Downtown Seattle were established in 1851 and 1852. The latter settlement was right upon and between prominent villages on Elliott Bay and villages on the Duwamish River estuary.
How smooth must be the language of the whites, when they can make right look like wrong, and wrong like right. – Black Hawk, Sauk
Black Hawk, born Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, (1767 – October 3, 1838) was a band leader and warrior of the Sauk American Indian tribe in what is now the Midwest of the United States. Although he had inherited an important historic sacred bundle from his father, he was not a hereditary civil chief. Black Hawk earned his status as a war chief or captain by his actions: leading raiding and war parties as a young man, and a band of Sauk warriors during the Black Hawk War of 1832.
During the War of 1812, Black Hawk had fought on the side of the British against the U.S., hoping to push white American settlers away from Sauk territory. Later he led a band of Sauk and Fox warriors, known as the British Band, against European-American settlers in Illinois and present-day Wisconsin in the 1832 Black Hawk War. After the war, he was captured by U.S. forces and taken to the eastern U.S. He and other war leaders were taken on a tour of several cities.
Shortly before being released from custody, Black Hawk told his story to an interpreter; aided also by a newspaper reporter, he published Autobiography of Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, or Black Hawk, Embracing the Traditions of his Nation… in 1833 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The first Native American autobiography to be published in the U.S., his book became an immediate bestseller and has gone through several editions. Black Hawk died in 1838 (at age 70 or 71) in what is now southeastern Iowa. He has been honored by an enduring legacy: his book, many eponyms, and other tributes.
Important Quotes by Black Hawk HERE
Among the Indians there have been no written laws. Customs handed down from generation to generation have been the only laws to guide them. Every one might act different from what was considered right did he choose to do so, but such acts would bring upon him the censure of the Nation…. This fear of the Nation’s censure acted as a mighty band, binding all in one social, honorable compact. – Tecumseh Shawnee
Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence. – Mourning Dove Salish
All native, tribal cultures have their essences deeply rooted in the land from where they come from.
They also worship forces of nature that are the sources of the lives they live. They are very elemental, rising from nature and ending up as dust in it.
One of their magic’s primary aim is healing. This arises from the essential and fundamental need for all human beings to protect themselves. This urge for self-protection has always made people resort to the supernatural.
This particular healing rite comes from the need to be reborn: to kill the toxic habit that bound your old self down and to regain new feathers for your soul to fly again. Like a phoenix, rising from the ashes, cleansed of all spiritual fatigue and tiredness.
But one thing we must remind you of. And this is not to be taken lightly especially in the case of magic and conjuring. Every kind of magic/conjuring is a risky business because we deal with things from other realms. So it is advised that you take the advice of a professional practitioner.
First of all, water. Take a shower to cleanse your body, mind, soul and vibe. Next, use a cleansing herb like sage or something else whose aroma makes you feel at home and fumigate yourself with its gentle aroma and mild smoke.
Thirdly, meditate on your spirit animal. Your guardian angels take bestial forms to protect you from harm and only through meditation can they be reached. They are also known as totem spirits, often represented on wood pillars called totem poles.
And finally, chant this:
‘Mother, sing me a song, that will ease my pain,
Mend broken bones, bring wholeness again.
Catch my babies, when they are born,
Sing my death song, teach me how to mourn.
Show me the Medicine of the healing herbs,
The value of spirit, the way I can serve.
Mother, heal my heart so that I can see
The gifts of yours that can live through me.’
Courtesy of SOUL TRAVEL RULES
A long time ago, when the Indians were first made, one man lived alone, far from any others. He did not know fire, and so he lived on roots, bark, and nuts. This man became very lonely for companionship. He grew tired of digging roots, lost his appetite, and for several days lay dreaming in the sunshine. When he awoke, he saw someone standing near and, at first, was very frightened.
But when he heard the stranger’s voice, his heart was glad, and he looked up. He saw a beautiful woman with long light hair! “Come to me,” he whispered. But she did not, and when he tried to approach her, she moved farther away. He sang to her about his loneliness, and begged her not to leave him.
At last she replied, “If you will do exactly what I tell you to do, I will also be with you.”
He promised that he would try his very best. So she led him to a place where there was some very dry grass. “Now get two dry sticks,” she told him, “and rub them together fast while you hold them in the grass.”
Soon a spark flew out. The grass caught fire, and as swiftly as an arrow takes flight, the ground was burned over. Then the beautiful woman spoke again: “When the sun sets, take me by the hair and drag me over the burned ground.”
“Oh, I don’t want to do that!” the man exclaimed.
“You must do what I tell you to do,” said she. “Wherever you drag me, something like grass will spring up, and you will see something like hair coming from between the leaves. Soon seeds will be ready for your use.”
The man followed the beautiful woman’s orders. And when the Indians see silk on the cornstalk, they know that the beautiful woman has not forgotten them.
The Trail of Tears was a series of forced relocations of Native Americans in the United States from their ancestral homelands in the Southeastern United States, to areas to the west (usually west of the Mississippi River) that had been designated as Indian Territory. The forced relocations were carried out by government authorities following the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830. The relocated peoples suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while en route to their new designated reserve, and many died before reaching their destinations. The forced removals included members of the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations, as well as their African slaves. The phrase “Trail of Tears” originates from a description of the removal of many Native American tribes, including the infamous Cherokee Nation relocation in 1838.
Between 1830 and 1850, the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee people (including mixed-race and black slaves who lived among them) were forcibly removed from their traditional lands in the Southeastern United States, and relocated farther west. Those Native Americans who were relocated were forced to march to their destinations by state and local militias. The Cherokee removal in 1838 (the last forced removal east of the Mississippi) was brought on by the discovery of gold near Dahlonega, Georgia in 1828, resulting in the Georgia Gold Rush. Approximately 2,000–8,000 of the 16,543 relocated Cherokee perished along the way.
In 1830, a group of Indians collectively referred to as the Five Civilized Tribes (the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, and Seminole tribes) were living as autonomous nations in what would be later called the American Deep South. The process of cultural transformation, as proposed by George Washington and Henry Knox, was gaining momentum, especially among the Cherokee and Choctaw.
American settlers had been pressuring the federal government to remove Indians from the Southeast; many settlers were encroaching on Indian lands, while others wanted more land made available to European (‘Caucasian’/’white’) settlers. Although the effort was vehemently opposed by some, including U.S. Congressman Davy Crockett of Tennessee, President Andrew Jackson was able to gain Congressional passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which authorized the government to extinguish Indian title to lands in the Southeast.
In 1831, the Choctaw became the first Nation to be removed, and their removal served as the model for all future relocations. After two wars, many Seminoles were removed in 1832. The Creek removal followed in 1834, the Chickasaw in 1837, and lastly the Cherokee in 1838. Some managed to evade the removals, however, and remained in their ancestral homelands; some Choctaw are living in Mississippi, Creek in Alabama and Florida, Cherokee in North Carolina, and Seminole in Florida. A small group of Seminole, fewer than 500, evaded forced removal; the modern Seminole Tribe of Florida is descended from these individuals. A small number of non-Native Americans who lived with the tribes, including some of African descent (including over 4,000 slaves, and others as spouses or freedmen), also accompanied the Indians on the trek westward. By 1837, 46,000 Indians from the southeastern states had been removed from their homelands, thereby opening 25 million acres (100,000 km2) for predominantly European settlement.
Prior to 1838, the fixed boundaries of these autonomous tribal nations, comprising large areas of the United States, were subject to continual cession and annexation, in part due to pressure from squatters and the threat of military force in the newly declared U.S. territories—federally administered regions whose boundaries supervened upon the Native treaty claims. As these territories became U.S. states, state governments sought to dissolve the boundaries of the Indian nations within their borders, which were independent of state jurisdiction, and to expropriate the land therein. These pressures were exacerbated by U.S. population growth and the expansion of slavery in the South, with the rapid development of cotton cultivation in the uplands following the invention of the cotton gin.
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