Native American Veterans -

Navaho Native American Veterans Association  -

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 190,00 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.

Tribal Governments

  • Mohegan Tribe, CT

  • Mohican Nation, WI

  • Monacan Indian Nation, VA

  • Morongo Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians, CA

  • Muckleshoot Tribe, WA

  • Muscogee (Creek) Nation, OK

  • Nansemond Indian Tribal Association, VA

  • Napaimute Native Village, AK

  • Narragansett Indian Tribe, RI

  • Navajo Nation, AZ

  • Nez Perce Tribe, ID

  • Ninilchik Village Tribe, AK

  • Nisqually Indian Tribe, WA

  • Nome Eskimo Community, AK

  • Nooksack Indian Tribe, WA

  • Northern Arapaho Tribe, WY

  • Northern Cheyenne Tribe, MT

  • North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, CA

  • Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, UT

  • Oglala Sioux Tribe, SD

  • Oneida Nation, WI

  • Onondaga Nation, NY

  • Osage Tribe, OK

  • Ottawa Tribe, OK

  • Pala Band of Mission Indians, CA

  • Pascua Yaqui Tribe, AZ

  • Passamaquoddy Tribe, ME

  • Pawnee Nation, OK

  • Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, CA

  • Penobscot Indian Nation, ME

  • Peoria Tribe, OK

  • Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, CA

  • Pinoleville Pomo Nation, CA

  • Poarch Band of Creek Indians, AL

  • Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, MI & IN

  • Pomo Indians of the Cloverdale Rancheria, CA

  • Ponca Tribe, NE

  • Ponca Tribe of Indians, OK

  • Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, WA

  • Port Lions Native Village, AK

  • Powhatan Renape Nation, NJ

  • Prairie Band of Potawatomi, KS

  • Prairie Island Indian Community, MN

  • Pueblo of Cochiti, NM

  • Pueblo of Isleta, NM

  • Pueblo of Jemez, NM

  • Pueblo of Laguna, NM

  • Pueblo of Sandia, NM

  • Pueblo of Santa Ana, NM

  • Pueblo of Taos, NM

  • Pueblo of Zuni, NM

  • Puyallup Tribe, WA

  • Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribes, NV

  • Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska, AK

  • Quapaw Tribe of Indians, OK

  • Quileute Tribe, WA

  • Quinault Indian Nation, WA

  • Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, WI

  • Redding Rancheria, CA

  • Red Lake Nation, MN

  • Rincon Band of Luiseno Mission Indians, CA

  • Robinson Rancheria of Pomo Indians, CA

  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe, SD

  • Round Valley Indian Tribes, CA

  • Rumsey Indian Rancheria of Wintun Indians, CA

  • Sac & Fox Nation, OK

  • Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi (Meskwaki), IA

  • Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, MI

  • Salish & Kootenai Confederated Tribes, MT

  • Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, AZ

  • Samish Indian Nation, WA

  • San Carlos Apache Tribe, AZ

  • San Carlos Apache Tribe, AZ

  • San Manuel Band, CA

  • San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, CA

  • Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians, CA

  • Santee Sioux Nation, NE

  • Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, WA

  • Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, MI

  • Seldovia Village Tribe, AK

  • Seminole Nation, OK

  • Seminole Tribe, FL

  • Seneca-Cayuga Tribe, OK

  • Seneca Nation of Indians, NY

  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, MN

  • Shawnee Tribe, OK

  • Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, CA

  • Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe, WA

  • Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, ID

  • Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, NV

  • Siletz Indians Confederated Tribes, OR

  • Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, SD

  • Sitka Tribe, AK

  • Skokomish Tribal Nation, WA

  • Smith River Rancheria, CA

  • Snoqualmie Tribe, WA

  • Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, CA

  • Sokaogon Chippewa Community, WI

  • Southern Cherokee Nation, KY

  • Southern Cherokee Nation, OK

  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe, CO

  • Spirit Lake Tribe, ND

  • Spokane Tribe, WA

  • Squaxin Island Tribe, WA

  • St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, NY

  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, ND & SD

  • Stebbins Community Association, AK

  • Stillaguamish Tribe, WA

  • Stockbridge Munsee Community, WI

  • Summit Lake Paiute Tribe, NV

  • Sun'aq Tribe of Kodiak, AK

  • Suquamish Tribe, WA

  • Susanville Indian Rancheria, CA

  • Swinomish Indian Tribe, WA

  • Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, CA

  • Tachi Yokut Tribe, CA

  • Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone, NV

  • Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, CA and NV

  • Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes, AK

  • Tohono O'odham Nation, AZ

  • Tonkawa Tribe, OK

  • Tulalip Tribes, WA

  • Tule River Tribe, CA

  • Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, LA

  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, ND

  • Ugashik Traditional Council, AK

  • Umatilla Indian Reservation Confederated Tribes, OR

  • Unalakleet Native Village, AK

  • United Auburn Indian Community, CA

  • United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, OK

  • Upper Sioux Community, MN

  • Ute Indian Tribe, UT

  • Ute Mountain Tribe, CO, NM, & UT 

  • Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, CA

  • Wales Native Village, AK

  • Walker River Paiute Tribe, NV

  • Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, MA

  • Warm Springs Reservation Confederated Tribes, OR

  • Washoe Tribe, NV & CA

  • White Mountain Apache Tribe, AZ

  • Winnebago Tribe, NE

  • Wiyot Tribe, CA

  • Woody Island Tribal Council, AK

  • Wyandotte Nation, OK

  • Wyoming Native American Tribes, WY

  • Yakama Nation Confederated Tribes and Bands, WA

  • Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, AK

  • Yankton Sioux Tribe, SD

  • Yavapai-Apache Nation, AZ

  • Yavapai-Prescott Tribe, AZ

  • Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo, TX

  • Yurok Tribe, CA

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