American Indian Military: Dignity Through Service

American Indian Military

Lori Piestewa shares a moment with a fellow soldier before being deployed from Ft. Bliss, Texas, in this February 18, 2003, photo. She was the first American Indian female GI to die in combat on March 23, 2003

American Indian Military Service

The military services offered the opportunity for Indian men and women to serve and earn their way in rank. It offered Natives an opportunity to be accepted and recognized for one’s ability that was not prevalent in civilian life. Frequently, the conditions were so bad on the reservations that many of our people joined the military service as a way to escape from poverty.

Serving in the military offered the Native man or woman a little dignity which filled a place in their human psyche that had been void. There have been Indians serving in the U.S. military from the Civil War forward. Most famously, of course, are the Navajo Indian Code Talkers.

That small dignity is a portion of the healing Natives deserve after decades of historical trauma. To read about the healing journey of one Native man, purchase Dancing My Dream by Warren Petoskey. It is available through this web site and through

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