May 18, 2007

Indians rethink the military

American Indians Have Proud Tradition of Military ServiceAt the time of his service during World War II, Lakota elder Johnson Holy Rock felt that his participation in the military would not only carry on his family's warrior tradition, but also help his people. Fighting for the freedom of the oppressed in foreign countries, he assumed, would surely lead to a better life for the Lakota. But his opinion has changed over the last half-century. "I'm sorry that I ever shouldered a gun and spent three years of my life walking all over in a war supposedly to make life a little better for myself, which has not happened. I live. But there are people here on our reservation that are less than Third World status."

And Johnson Holy Rock opposes the current war in Iraq. He says that many American Indians see uncomfortable similarities with the way the U.S. government treated Native Americans. "That's a people. And if the people tolerate that type of life, that's their right to exist as they are," he explains. "And, yet, we disagree with it, just as this nation disagreed that the Indian cannot exist as an Indian, must become a part of the American mainstream society."


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
What happened for most tribes is that serving in the US military became a SUBSTITUTE or a SURROGATE or even an EQUIVALENT EXPERIENCE for the warriorhood trials that once were well-established portions of Native American culture. As the American 'civilization' evolved, Natives found themselves not so much defending the homeland as they always had, but also defending the current political staus quo of the United States, which not always was a true defense of the homeland. Even writerfella accepted his being drafted into military service as being part and parcel to that original principle. Today's Natives have realized that they no longer are defending the homeland and more are defending the policies of whatever Presidential Administration happens to be in power at the moment. That does not mean that writerfella fails to support Natives who became or become members of today's military. It simply means that perhaps future Native electees of military service should consider the motives of the USA in whatever wars they may cast in the immediate and subsequent futures. As writerfella now believes, a war in Afghanistan or Iraq does not qualify as any kind of threat to the lands that Natives always have defended. Which means that EuroMan long ago decided that the children of US minorities should fight US wars rather than the children of EuroMan...
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

As far as I'm concerned, no enemy has posed a threat to the US since WW II. That includes Korea and Vietnam.

Which explains why I wouldn't have served if I'd been drafted into the Vietnam War. Even as a teenager, I knew that war was bogus.