In chronicling the war stories of Native American soldiers from World War I to Vietnam, “Way of the Warrior” offers an interesting counterpart to Ken Burns’ seven-part series, “The War,” which was criticized by some for neglecting the contributions of minority soldiers in World War II. Like Burns, Loew uses historical footage, primary documents and interviews with veterans and their families to relate deeply personal tales of bravery, heroism and loss. But she also probes social stereotypes and aspects of tribal cultures that have made the experiences of Native American soldiers unique.
“They were seen as super-warriors, who were supposedly extraordinarily brave and fierce,” she says. “Because of those stereotypes, Native Americans often saw some of the most dangerous duties in combat. They were disproportionately the ones walking point or jumping behind enemy lines.”