Loyalty, money drive Indians in record numbers
Those signing up for active duty increased more than 50 percent from 683 in 2001 to 1,048 in 2006. The number who have joined the Army Reserve has increased sevenfold over the same period--from 35 in 2001 to 253 last year, according to the US Army Recruiting Command.
There are about 22,000 Native Americans in all the services, a proportion corresponding to roughly twice their share of the population.
With the Army still struggling to meet its enlistment targets, recruiters have intensified their outreach to Indian tribes, staging job fairs at tribal events.
In places such as South Dakota, with numerous vast reservations, the military has assigned special recruiters to focus solely on Native Americans. In some tribes, including the Kickapoo, recruiters have persuaded tribal elders to encourage young people to enlist in the military as a way of preserving their tribal warrior traditions.
In Lawrence, Kan., recruiters say they find students at the Haskell Indian Nations University more receptive than those at the nearby University of Kansas.
"They are more patriotic. Their parents are more patriotic," Army Sergeant Shelton J. West said while sitting in his office at the Lawrence Army Career Center.