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|Bay Pines Native American Council|
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Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army. The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform. This wish was granted. The haunting melody, we now know as "Taps" . used at military funerals was born.
The words are:
Day is done
Gone the sun
From the lakes
From the hills
From the sky
All is well
God is nigh.
Thanks and praise
Glynn Crooks, a Native American from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux tribe in Prior Lakes, Minn., salutes the casket of former President Ronald Reagan at the Capitol Rotunda Thursday, June 10, 2004 in Washington. Thousands of mourners are paying their last respects to the former President before tomorrow's funeral service at the National Cathedral. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
"A Warrior is challenged to assume responsibility, practice humility, and display the power of giving, and then center his or her life around a core of spirituality. I challenge today's youth to live like a warrior."
~ Billy Mills ~
20th Century Warriors: Native American Participation in the United States Military
A Long Tradition Of Participation
Contributions In Combat
Battle-experienced American Indian troops from World War II were joined by newly recruited Native Americans to fight Communist aggression during the Korean conflict. The Native American's strong sense of patriotism and courage emerged once again during the Vietnam era. More than 42,000 Native Americans, more than 90 percent of them volunteers, fought in Vietnam. Native American contributions in United States military combat continued in the 1980s and 1990s as they saw duty in Grenada, Panama, Somalia, and the Persian Gulf.
Native Americans As Warriors
More important, however, is the warrior's spiritual strength. Many traditional cultures recognize that war disrupts the natural order of life and causes a spiritual disharmony. To survive the chaos of war is to gain a more intimate knowledge of life. Therefore, military service is a unique way to develop an inner strength that is valued in Native American society. Having a strong sense of inner spirituality is also a part of the Indian character. Many Native Americans are raised on rural or remote reservations, an environment that fosters self- reliance, introspection, and a meditative way of thinking. These character traits can be very beneficial when adapting to the occasional isolation of military life in times of both peace and war.
Honor, Pride, Devotion
United States military service provides an outlet for Native Americans to fulfill a cultural purpose rooted in tradition -- to fight and defend their homeland. This purpose is particularly important since it comes when young people of the tribe are normally not old enough to assume a leadership role in their traditional culture. The cultural expectation to be a warrior provides a purpose in life and is an important step in gaining status in Native America culture.
Native American warriors are devoted to the survival of their people and their homeland. If necessary, warriors will lay down their lives for the preservation of their culture, for death to the American Indian warrior is but another step in the advancement of life. It is understood that the warrior's spirit lives on eternally. So, warriors do not fear death, but rather regard it as the ultimate sacrifice for their own and their people's continued survival.
The warrior seeks wisdom. Wisdom, as used in this context, means the sum total of formal learning and worldly experiences. In wartime, those Native Americans seeing heavy combat had to learn how to survive, often using skills that may unit commanders thought were inherent to the American Indian's cultural background.
Many American Indians (as well as non-Indian volunteers) joined the military in World War I to satisfy their sense of adventure. Most had never left the confines of their hometown, much less marched on the battlefields of Europe. These experiences provided a wisdom through exposure to other people and cultures. This was sometimes threatening to the elders of a tribe, who feared that this newfound worldliness would cause unwanted change to their culture. Over time, however, this wisdom of worldly events and peoples was accepted by tribal leaders. Today, Native Americans are increasingly exposed to the non- Indian world through movies and television. Although the military is still an avenue for seeing the world, it has, in the latter half of the 20th century, also provided other types of wisdom. Military service offers excellent educational and job skill opportunities for Native American me and women who frequently come from educationally disadvantaged communities.
Wisdom can also be gained from interaction with others. Military policy in the 20th century has preferred assimilating the American Indian into regular units. Although some divisions had more Native American troops than others, there were never all-Indian units. This meant that Indians and non-Indians were placed in close-knit groups, perhaps each experiencing each other's culture up close for the first time.
Similarly, intertribal relationships were developed, sometimes with a person who was a traditional "enemy." Many times these intercultural and intertribal contacts broke through stereotypes and resulted in lifelong friendships, friendships that otherwise might never have been cultivated.
The Warrior Tradition Carries On
15 August 1997
Double Click: DM&EEO
The Office of Diversity Management and Equal Employment Opportunity (DM&EEO) provides leadership in creating and sustaining a diverse workforce free of discrimination at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Did you know that...
Per capita, the Native American population has historically formed the highest percentage of military personnel in this country.
A Sac and Fox/Creek Korean veteran once remarked:
Many Ponies - Earth Day 2004
Wado my Friends!
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
- John F. Kennedy, 1961 inaugural address
We honor our veterans for their bravery and because by seeing death on the battlefield, they truly know the greatness of life.
- Winnebago Elder
When I went to Germany, I never thought about war honors, or the four "coups" which an old-time Crow warrior had to earn in battle....But afterwards, when I came back and went through this telling of war deeds ceremony... lo and behold I [had] completed the four requirements to become a chief.
- Crow World War II Veteran
Oh Great Spirit of our Ancestors, I raise my pipe to you.
To your Messengers, the Four Winds, and to Mother Earth who provides for your children.
Give us the wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect, and to be kind to each other so that they may grow with peace of mind.
Let us learn to share all good things that you provide for us on this Earth.
My people honored me as a warrior. We had a feast and my parents and grandparents thanked everyone who prayed for my safe return. We had a "special" [dance] and I remembered as we circled the drum, I got a feeling of pride. I felt good inside because that's the way the Kiowa people tell you that you've done well.
- Kiowa Vietnam Veteran
Check out these websites!
Please pray in your fashion for Creator's protection of our troops and wisdom for their commanders. Considering the increase in terrorist activity around the world, your prayers are more urgent than ever. Pray that are military men and women - on ground, air and sea - are protected, even as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in these troubled times. A-Ho.
After I got home, my uncles sat me down and had me tell them what it [the war] was all about. One of them had been in the service in World War II and knew what war was like. We talked about what went on over there, about killing and the waste, and one of my uncles said that God's laws are against war. They never talked about those kinds of things with me before.
- Cherokee Vietnam Veteran
National Museum of the American Indian
Want to learn to play the native flute?
Call Yona at 727/821-8186 for directions and details of local events at Indian Stuff in St. Petersburg.
| Honoring Veterans in Indian Country|
Perhaps it is because our ancient societies were organized with a special place for warriors or maybe it is because so many of our young men and women join the Armed Forces. Whatever the reason, Indian Veterans are highly honored in the Native American communities of Oklahoma. Tribal elders know that men coming home from combat have special needs. This was particularly meaningful to returning Indian Veterans during the Viet Nam war. Some Vets may have disembarked in San Francisco from a year of hard fighting for freedom only to met by shouting protestors. They watched T.V. as their comrades-in-arms were spit upon and disrespected in public. Veterans felt let down by the people they had sacrificed so much for and that feeling has yet to heal in many hearts. Homecoming Viet Nam vets ditched their uniforms as quickly as possible and sought to hide their service.
For Indian Veterans the homecoming was different, they knew their people would honor them as returning heroes. Just as they have done for all the veterans of American Wars since 1776. Indian vets wanted to be seen in uniform and most often proudly wore them home on the plane and bus to the reservation. Each Oklahoma Tribe has a Veterans society which welcomes returning vets into their membership. Here on the Ponca reservation veterans functions are performed by Buffalo Post 38 of the American Legion and their Auxiliary. Buffalo Post 38 was the first all-Indian American Legion Post in the Nation.
When a Ponca comes home from war his (or her) family puts on a "Soldier Dance" as an expression of their pride. They invite all the people to come to the dance, with a special invitation to all Tribal Veterans. A large Indian style feast is prepared and all the relatives begin to gather items for the formal "give-away" in the Veterans honor. A Head Singer is invited by the family, he is an honored man who knows the proper He-thus'-ka warrior society songs to sing for the occasion. Others are selected to fill the positions of Head Man Dancer and Head Woman Dancer. Veterans Societies from other Tribes are invited to attend and Post 38 is asked to post the colors.
On the night of the "Soldier Dance" the returning vet is honored all night long with special songs and blankets given to him or to others on his behalf. Speeches from elders and veterans talk of their own service and thank him for his. An elder veteran fans him with a feather from the Golden Eagle and proclaims his honorable service for all to hear. It is a day which the proud Veteran, his family and his proud Ponca people will remember forever and will forever bring him honor within his Tribe. At the end he is asked to lead a dance while all his family and friends gather in a group to dance behind him.
The important thing is the warrior and his place in the Tribal circle and it had nothing to do with the politics of the war itself. He was recognized as an individual who had been absent from his accustomed place in the Circle to go to war, a young man sent by his elders into danger. On behalf of his people he had risked himself and taken on wounds which must heal. Our people have recognized for untold generations that the wounds in the soul of a young warrior must be healed before he can resume his life. An ancient welcome by Ponca Warriors who have been there too begins the healing and the " Soldier Dance" begins his return to the Tribe.
- Carter Camp, Ponca Nation
The real secret which makes the Indian such an outstanding soldier is his enthusiasm for the fight.
- U.S. Army Major, 1912
There was a camaraderie [in the Air Force] that transcends ethnicity when you serve your country overseas in wartime.
- Sen. Ben NIghthorse Campbell, Cheyenne Korean veteran
Walk in Balance
|BAY PINES NATIVE AMERICAN COUNCIL|
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