January 17, 2008

The Way of the Warrior

PBS program details Native Americans’ war braveryProducer Patty Loew said she always had an interest in learning about why her grandfather, an Ojibwe, volunteered to fight in World War I when he was not a United States citizen.

That was a central question for many of the veterans she interviewed or researched for this project. Some said they fought because of clan obligations. Others were driven by patriotism toward the United States. Still others said it was a way to prove themselves as warriors and keep tribal traditions alive.

The documentary explores what it was like to be an Indian soldier, noting that Native Americans often were singled out for the most dangerous assignments because of the ascribed stereotypes of possessing an innate sense of direction, or superior hearing and eyesight. As a result, Native Americans often suffered higher injury and casualty rates. One example was the Red Arrow Division in World War I. The unit, which held a high proportion of Native soldiers, lost nearly 60 percent of its force.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Indians in the Military.

Below:  Little Sure Shot, a US soldier with keen hunting and tracking abilities.

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