Introduction

The warrior spirit has always been a fundamental part of Native American's culture. To prove oneself to be courageous in combat was ultimately necessary to be taken seriously by other tribe members. Concepts of pride, devotion and strength, fundamental to Native Americans, are also the fundamentals to those who serve in the United States Armed Forces. Native Americans have the highest rate of service per capita of any ethnicity in the United States, and they have had a profound impact on the history of the conflicts in which the U.S. military have been involved.

Pre-1900s

Native Americans have influenced the outcomes of battles since the American revolution. American troops learned the benefits of a guerilla style war, instead of the stiff European lines that continued to be used even into the Civil War. In the War of 1812, seperate tribes aided both sides, as well as in the Civil War. They were noted for being exceptional scouts and for serving bravely and fiercely.

Following the Civil War, in 1866, the Indian Scouts were established by the U.S. Army. Later in 1916, Gen. John J. Pershing led an expedition in pursuit of Pancho Villa into Mexico, accompanied by a contigent of the Indian Scouts. The Indian Scouts were deactivated following their final member's retirement in 1947.

American Indians were also recruited by Teddy Roosevelt and saw action in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

World War I

One of the most important contribution American Indians made to the military in the 20th Century was their languages. Codetalkers, as they became known, used their languages as a code for radio communications while fighting Germany. Words like colonel and tank became "silver eagle" (the insgnia for a colonel) and "turtle" in the Indian languages. The code was never broken by the Germans

World War II
iwo_jima_flag.gif
Raising of the American Flag at Iwo Jima

The use of codetalkers continued into WWII. It was used more heavily in the Pacific Theater, but also in Europe. In particular, a group of 26 Meskwaki from Iowa fought in North Africa, with the military making full use of their language as an unbreakable code. No enemy was every able to crack the code, even after one codetalker was captured alive and tortured.

A prominent figure from WWII is Marine Corporal Ira Hayes, from the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona. While he was not a codetalker, he was one of the group depicted in the famous photograph of the American flag being raised on top of Iwo Jima. Johnny Cash even wrote a song about him, concerning his troubled nature after the war, and tendency towards alcohol. It was well known that he felt guilt for surviving, when so many from his unit did not. It is an interesting fact that he portrayed himself in the John Wayne film, Sands of Iwo Jima, and later portrayed by Adam Beach in Flags of our Fathers, who also played a codetalker in the movie Windtalkers.

Korean and Vietnam Wars

Following WWII, American Indians were used less in just specialty roles such as codetalkers or scouts, and began breaking through and serving in all roles and ranks of the military. They saw service as pilots, naval admirals, platoon leaders, and brave, hardworking ground troops.

In the Vietnam War, over 42,000 Native Americans served (90% of which were volunteers). Always they were described as fierce, brave and trustworthy in combat.

Medal of Honor Recipients

As of 2010, 28 Medals of Honor have been awarded to Native American service members, the last being awarded for action in the Korean War (November 30, 1952), and 7 of which were awarded posthumously. The majority of the awards were during the Indian Wars for action with Apaches.

Post-Vietnam War

Native Americans have continued their strong participation in the military since the Vietnam War. They have fought alongside other service members Grenada, Panama, Somalia, and the Gulf Wars. Today little distinction is made between a Native American service member and any other service member, as far as talent and aptitude at certain jobs.

At the end of the 20th Century it was estimated that there were 190,000 Native American Veterans, and they maintained the highest participation per capita of any ethnic group in the United States. They are lauded for their past, and continuing, courageous service.

Today, Native American veterans that return home have a stronger connection with other veterans in their tribes and other tribes that. They even bring what they have learned back to their own culture, in one case as a powwow to honor veterans. This extends the very important element of wisdom of the tribe.






Annotated Bibliography


1) "American Indians in the US Army." The Official Homepage of the United States Army. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.army.mil/americanindians/soldiershonored/a_codetalkers.html>.
Discusses Indian code talkers and their impact on communications during WWI and WWII. Also discusses how Native Americans now serve alongside other members of the military, keeping a sense of their heritage intact, and functioning as well as any other service member.

2) Ault, Jon. "Native Americans in the Spanish American War." Spanish American War. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.spanamwar.com/NativeAmericans.htm>. Discusses Native American participation in the Spanish American War. Tells of large losses of American Indian lives in combat, suggesting they were used as pawns or cannon fodder.

3) "Iwo Jima Flag Raiser." The Official Home of the Department of Defense. 14 Oct. 2003. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.defense.gov/specials/nativeamerican01/flag.html>. Profile of Ira Hayes' service and life after the service. Discusses his dislike for a hero's welcome, and his decline into alcoholism.

4) "Going Native: Disabled Veterans." The Gimp Parade. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://thegimpparade.blogspot.com/2006/11/going-native-disabled-veterans.html>.
Showcases examples of sacrifice by Native Americans in combat. Discusses Ira Hayes, a Marine who was in the famous picture of the American flag being raised at Iwo Jima.

5) "Native American Indian Heritage Month." The Official Home of the Department of Defense. 14 Oct. 2003. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.defense.gov/specials/nativeamerican01/warrior.html>.
This article gives insight into how American Indians have served in the Armed Forces, primarily in the 20th century. It also discusses the mindsets of those who serve, and the roots of the warrior in American Indian culture.

6) "Native American Indian Heritage Month." The Official Home of the Department of Defense. 14 Oct. 2003. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.defense.gov/specials/nativeamerican01/korea.html>.
Native American veterans from WWII return to serve, this time in Korea. They transition from specialty roles, to serving as any other service member, in all ranks and positions.

7) "Native American Indian Heritage Month." The Official Home of the Department of Defense. 14 Oct. 2003. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.defense.gov/specials/nativeamerican01/women.html>. A look at the participation of Native American women in the military, as far back as the Lewis and Clark expidition. Describes their participation as strong and influential.

8) "Native American Medal Of Honor Recipients - List." Home Of Heroes Home Page. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.homeofheroes.com/e-books/mohE_indian/list.html>. List of Native American Medal of Honor recipients through the Korean War. Includes information on rank, place of birth, where they entered service and other information relevant to their service and award.

9) "Native American Soldiers Will Be Allowed to Use Peyote for Religious Ceremonies Under Pentagon Draft Rule." National Drug Strategy Network. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.ndsn.org/mayjun97/peyote.html>. Describes actions taken by the DoD to allow Native American service members to fully engage in religous sacraments. Explains controversy of allowing participation, but shows an attempt by the DoD to treat Native Americans equally.

10) "NAVAJO CODE TALKERS WW2 Native American Warriors History Series Honoring Indian War Veterans." CALIFORNIA INDIAN EDUCATION CALIE Educational Tribal Website of Calif Native American Indians Families Reservation and Urban Communities of North America USA Southern CA. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.californiaindianeducation.org/native_american_veterans/navajo_code_talkers.html>. Describes the action and service by the American Indian Codetalkers. Also gives a taste of how the code worked including some translations.

11) "Norfolk Southern – The Thoroughbred of Transportation | Creating Green Jobs Shipping Freight by Rail." Norfolk Southern - The Thoroughbred of Transportation | Creating Green Jobs Shipping Freight by Rail | Norfolk Southern – The Thoroughbred of Transportation | Creating Green Jobs Shipping Freight by Rail. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.nscorp.com/nscportal/nscorp/Employees/Diversity/Archives/Veterans/2004/native.html>.
Discusses Native American and Native Alaskan involvement in U.S. military history. Emphasizes abilities as scouts and their strong impact on the outcome of battle.

12) Ojibwa, By. "Street Prophets: WWII & American Indians: Serving in the Military." Street Prophets :: Faith and Politics. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.streetprophets.com/storyonly/2010/7/14/223656/367>. Overview of participation by Native Americans in World War II. Describes awards earned, and some of the action they were involved in.

13) "REAL WAR PHOTOS - American Indians & The Old West -" REAL WAR PHOTOS. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.realwarphotos.com/indians__old_west>.
Discusses Native American military service in the 20th Century, focusing on large numbers of participation, and intensity in combat.

14) Robinson, Gary. "From Warriors to Soldiers: A History ..." Google Books. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://books.google.com/books?id=fAmwoZ6skEIC>.
This excerpt makes an observation on the early tactics used in the Revolutionary War, of European style battlefields with men marching in large formations into battle. American fighters learned stealth and camouflages from the Native Americans to their advantage.

15) Roy Cook. "Pearl Harbor." AIWA Home Page. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://aiwa.americanindiansource.com/pearlharbor.html>.
Discusses U.S. military impact on the development of Pearl Harbor, HI. Mentions Osage tribesman, Army Major General Clarence Tinker and his impact on the Pacific Theater.

16) "Saluting American Indian Military Veterans." Ahunika' Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://dorothyramon.blogspot.com/2010/08/saluting-american-indian-military.html>.
Description of a celebration of Native American veterans at the Dragonfly Gala. A blend of sharing between veterans, and of honoring the dead

17) Sanfilippo, Capt. Joseph. "US ARMY STAFF SARGENT CONRAD BEGAYE, NAVAJO NATIVE AMERICAN WAR VETERN, Awarded Silver Star for Courage Under Fire in Afghanistan War 2009." CALIFORNIA INDIAN EDUCATION CALIE Educational Tribal Website of Calif Native American Indians Families Reservation and Urban Communities of North America USA Southern CA. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.californiaindianeducation.org/native_american_veterans/modern_indian_warriors/conrad_begaye.html>. Example of modern participation in the military. Exudes bravery, as well as a sense of honor and humility familiar to most service members.

18) "Unit History of Master Sergeant Woodrow Keeble Winner of Medal of Honor for the United States Army." The Official Homepage of the United States Army. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/keeble/profile/index.html>.
Profile of Medal of Honor recipient, Woodrow W. Keeble. Describes his service in WWII and the Korean War as admirable and courageous.

19) Webmaster@Vets4veterans.com, Scott Haugh. "Tribal." Vets4veterans. Web. 13 Apr. 2011. <http://www.vets4veterans.com/Tribal.htm>.
Recognizes participation in conflicts by Native American and the 190,000 Native American Veterans. Notes that Native Americans have the highest participation per capita of all ethnic groups.

20) Williams, Rudi. "Marine Creates Native American Powwow to Honor Veterans." The Official Home of the Department of Defense. 14 Oct. 2003. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. <http://www.defense.gov/specials/nativeamerican01/powwow.html>. American Indian veterans bring outside wisdom to their tribes, share stories with other veterans, and honor veterans with a powwow.