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*Past Events
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Whenever we walk on the Earth, we should pay attention to what is going on. Too often our minds are somewhere else, thinking about the past or thinking about the future. When we do this, we are missing important lessons. The Earth is a constant flow of lessons and teachings, which also include a constant flow of positive feelings. If we are aware as we walk, we will gather words for our lives, the lessons to help our children; we will gather feelings of interconnectedness and calmness. When we experience this, we should say or think thoughts of gratitude. When we do this, the next person to walk on the sacred path will benefit even more.


Ah key chee ta-keyn-we cha you oh nee huh pay =
HONOR THE VETERANS!
(Lakota)

Almighty, Everlasting God, the Protector of all those who put their trust in Thee: hear our prayers in behalf of Thy servants who sail their vessels beneath the seas.

We beseech Thee to keep in Thy sustaining care all who are in submarines, that they may be delivered from the hidden dangers of the deep.

Grant them courage, and a devotion to fulfill their duties, that they may better serve Thee and their native land.

Though acquainted with the depths of the ocean, deliver them from the depths of despair and the dark hours of the absence of friendliness and grant them a good ship's spirit.

Bless all their kindred and loved ones from whom they are separated.

When they surface their ships, may they praise Thee for Thou art there as well as in the deep.

Fill them with Thy Spirit that they may be sure in their reckonings, unwavering in duty, high in purpose, and upholding the honor of their nation.

Amen

the submariner's prayer -
author unknown


Whenever we walk on the Earth, we should pay attention to what is going on. Too often our minds are somewhere else, thinking about the past or thinking about the future. When we do this, we are missing important lessons. The Earth is a constant flow of lessons and learnings which also include a constant flow of positive feelings. If we are aware as we walk, we will gather words for our lives, the lessons to help our children; we will gather feelings of interconnectedness and calmness. When we experience this, we should say or think thoughts of gratitude. When we do this, the next person to walk on the sacred path will benefit even more.


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We in the United States have all heard the haunting song, "Taps." It's the song that gives us that lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes. But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its humble beginnings Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention.

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
Safely rest
God is nigh.

Fading light
Dims the sight
And a star
Gems the sky
Gleaming bright
From afar
Drawing nigh
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise
For our days
Neath the sun
Neath the stars
Neath the sky
As we go
This we know
God is nigh.



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
(Prepared for the United States Department of Defense by CEHIP Incorporated, Washington, DC, in partnership with Native American advisors, Rodger Bucholz, William Fields, Ursula P. Roach. Washington: Department of Defense, 1996.)

A Long Tradition Of Participation
American Indians have participated with distinction in United States military actions for more than 200 years. Their courage, determination, and fighting spirit were recognized by American military leaders as early as the 18th century. Many tribes were involved in the War of 1812, and Indians fought for both sides as auxiliary troops in the Civil War. Scouting the enemy was recognized as a particular skill of the Native American soldier. In 1866, the U.S. Army established its Indian Scouts to exploit this aptitude. The Scouts were active in the American West in the late 1800s and early 1900s, accompanying Gen. John J. Pershing's expedition to Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa in 1916. They were deactivated in 1947 when their last member retired from the Army in ceremonies at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona. Native Americans from Indian Territory were also recruited by Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders and saw action in Cuba in the Spanish-American War in 1898. As the military entered the 20th century, American Indians had already made a substantial contribution through military service and were on the brink of playing an even larger role.

Contributions In Combat
It is estimated that more than 12,000 American Indians served in the United States military in World War I. Approximately 600 Oklahoma Indians, mostly Chotaw and Cherokee, were assigned to the 142nd Infantry of the 36th Texas-Oklahoma National Guard Division. The 142nd saw action in France and its soldiers were widely recognized for their contributions in battle. Four men from this unit were awarded the Croix de Guerre, while others received the Church War Cross for gallantry. The outbreak of World War II brought American Indians warriors back to the battlefield in defense of their homeland. Although now eligible for the draft by virtue of the Snyder Act, which gave citizenship to American Indians in 1924, conscription alone does not account for the disproportionate number of Indians who joined the armed services. More than 44,000 American Indians, out of a total Native American population of less than 350,000, served with distinction between 1941 and 1945 in both European and Pacific theaters of war. Native American men and women on the home front also showed an intense desire to serve their country, and were an integral part of the war effort. More than 40,000 Indian people left their reservations to work in ordnance depots, factories, and other war industries. American Indians also invested more than $50 million in war bonds, and contributed generously to the Red Cross and the Army and Navy Relief societies.

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
As the 20th century comes to a close, there are nearly 190,000 Native American military veterans. It is well recognized that, historically, Native Americans have the highest record of service per capita when compared to other ethnic groups. The reasons behind this disproportionate contribution are complex and deeply rooted in traditional American Indian culture. In many respects, Native Americans are no different from others who volunteer for military service. They do, however, have distinctive cultural values which drive them to serve their country. One such value is their proud warrior tradition. In part, the warrior tradition is a willingness to engage the enemy in battle. This characteristic has been clearly demonstrated by the courageous deeds of Native Americans in combat. However, the warrior tradition is best exemplified by the following qualities said to be inherent to most if not all Native American societies: strength, honor, pride, devotion, and wisdom. These qualities make a perfect fit with military tradition.


Strength
To be an American Indian warrior is to have physical, mental, and spiritual strength. A warrior must be prepared to overpower the enemy and face death head-on. American Indian soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen have fought heroically in all of this century's wars and armed conflicts. They have not only been formally recognized for their bravery through military decoration but through anecdotal observation as well.

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
Warriors are honored - honored by their family and their tribe. Before going into service and upon their return, warriors are recognized by family and community. Recognition takes place through private family gatherings, or through such public ceremonies as tribal dances or intertribal ceremonies. Being a warrior in traditional American Indian society gives one a sense of pride and a sense of accomplishment at a time in life when self-esteem is just developing. Becoming a warrior brings status to young men and women in their culture. The ceremonies that honor the warrior create a special place in the tribe's spiritual world.

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.


Wisdom
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
The requirements for successful military service -- strength, bravery, pride, and wisdom - match those of the Indian warrior. Military service affords an outlet for combat that fulfills a culturally determined role for the warrior. Therefore, the military is an opportunity for cultural self-fulfillment. By sending young tribal members off to be warriors, they return with experiences that make them valued members of their society. Finally, the military provides educational opportunities, which allow Native American veterans to return to their community with productive job skills to improve their quality of life. With the 21st century on the horizon, the United States military can be expected to provide continuing opportunity for Native American men and women. For their part, Native Americans can be expected to carry on their centuries-old warrior tradition- serving with pride, courage, and distinction.

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:
My platoon commander always sent me out on patrols. He probably thought that I could track down the enemy. I don't know for sure, but I guess he figured that Indians were warriors and hunters by nature.


Please Note:
This website was created and offered to the Bay Pines Native American Council by Keeper of Wolf's Heart Lodge, Marsha Anisoquili (Many Ponies) Raymond as "Web Wizard" at no cost and "with much respect and appreciation to all the Warriors who protect the People and the Land."


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!

Seminole Tribe of Florida
Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
Cherokee Nation of North Carolina
Rosebud Sioux Nation

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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