Native American Veteran and Canadian aboriginal veteran List.


1914 - 1918



1 of 3 volunteers over 90%. It is in this proportion as the Native American enlisted in the First World War.



Give a precise figure is difficult enrollment : Canada records departments of Indian Affairs did not include Inuit , Métis and Indians not living on reserves. In the U.S., most states do comptabilisaient only two kinds of races : white and colored . In both countries , are rarely leaves enlistments with the notion '' Indian '' .


Almost from the beginning of the war , Canadian authorities are considering putting Aboriginal contribution. At first reluctant Ottawa . In popular literature of the time , the " Redskins " are associated with torture and scalp totally unacceptable practice according to the rules of war set out in the Geneva Convention , ratified in 1906. According to the official discourse , "while the British soldiers would be proud to be associated with their fellow subjects of the Crown , the Germans could refuse to grant them the privileges of civilized warfare ." The recruitment of Canada "status Indians" is prohibited. While this issue is debated , however , many enthusiastic and dedicated Aboriginal have already rushed to the recruitment offices and began training for overseas service. Of two things : either the militia units ignore the ban, or they have decided not to consider it.


The Department of Indian Affairs , in particular the voice of Duncan Campbell Scott, praise the deeds of war status Indians . The annual report presents in 1919 states that, according to official records , over 4000 Indians enlisted the equivalent of about 35 percent . 100 of all registered male age to serve Indians. Given the difficulties facing these recruits , Scott describes the remarkable fact that " the percentage of Indians who enroll at any point is comparable to that observed in other sections of the population and , in fact, well above the average in a number of cases. " In addition, these statistics do not include non-status Indians , Métis or Inuit , so that Aboriginal people who served in the armed forces are more numerous than indicated by official records


Being Indian in the early 20th century did not mean to call Whitehorse , Bison horse sitting or thunder. Numerous Indian wore the current name Smith, Williams and Anderson, sad legacy of mandatory white schools .


In Canada, we do not expect that so many Indians volunteer . Initially, the government had hoped to discourage the recruitment of Aboriginal and adopted a policy prohibiting the service of Indian overseas territories. It was believed that the enemy perceived as indigenous wild and so they would be subject to abuse if they were captured. The policy , however, was never strictly enforced and it was abandoned at the end of 1915 because of the large number of applications for enrollment of the Indians as well as the urgent need for more troops for the Allies.

Support indigenous to the Allied war effort communities was not at all unanimous . For example, some band councils refused to help the Allied war effort unless Britain does not recognize their status as an independent nation . ( Statute which was not granted. )

After the introduction of conscription - compulsory military service - the Government of Canada in August 1917 , many Indian leaders urged the government to exclude the Indians. In the past, when negotiating treaties with the Indians , some Western leaders had sought and received assurances from the British government that the Indians would not be required to fight for Britain if it went to war . The government did remember those promises many times . In January 1918 , a decree was passed to exempt Indians combat functions .


Regarding the voluntary basis, however , the enthusiasm was evident Aboriginal across Canada . Some reserves lost almost all their young men. For example, only three men fit for military service and age among the Algonquins of Golden Lake Band remained in their reserves . About half of the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet suitable for enlistment in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and enlisted , though few in number, the File Hills community in Saskatchewan offered almost all able-bodied men enlisting . In British Columbia , all singles band Head of the Lake aged 20 to 35 men volunteered .

All eligible Mi'kmaq reserve near Sydney, Nova Scotia men volunteered . Bands New Brunswick send to the front 62 of their 116 eligible men , while 30 of the 64 eligible Indians Island Prince Edward Island enlist . Although Newfoundland and Labrador remains a separate colony during the world wars , the number of men of Inuit descent is estimated at 15 to have served in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of the British Army . Statistics for Quebec are somewhat unclear , but there is reason to believe that the percentage of Indians who enroll is high . In Ontario , all eligible men , except three, the Golden Lake Algonquin band , and enlisted a hundred Anishnawbes ( Ojibway ) from isolated northern Ontario communities go to Port Arthur (Thunder Bay) to enlist. The Six Nations of the Grand River has provided more soldiers than any other Indian community in the country , about 300 . In Manitoba , 20 men of the Peguis Band service at the front - an impressive statistic when you consider that one counts only 118 adult men . Unfortunately , 11 of them do not review their home. In the same vein , the band The Pas, the Sioux band Griswold and St. Peter's band will send all three more than 20 percent . 100 of their adult male population overseas territories. More than half of eligible adults in Cote reserve in Saskatchewan men serve overseas territories. Only 29 Indians of Alberta will , but 17 of them are from the People reserve the Blood .

In the U.S., only 228 were registered 17213 refuse to war , mainly because of their age .

Passamaquoddy of Maine, for example , the smallest American tribe furnished 500 volunteers , including their leader Peter Neptune.

All these cases are absolutely exemplary . Men who live in the Northern territory are rarely volunteers for their subsistence living fashion, their knowledge of international events and the virtual absence of links with the world, unknown to them with a few exceptions - among other John Campbell, who traveled 3,000 miles on foot , by canoe and steamship to go enlist in Vancouver - to participate in the war effort . Explain DC Scott, at the end of the war : "Remember that a large part of Indian population living in remote areas or inaccessible , did not know the English language and was therefore unable to understand the nature of the war, its causes or consequences. " The high number of Indians who enroll is only more remarkable.


George White Fox, Crow Indian , has changed its name to George White in order to enlist, he served aboard the USS Wyoming during the Great War , but his return from the war, the government of Montana refused to recognize his service military . When he died, he received neither military plaque or flag to his wife. His descendants today continue to fight for recognition of their military service.

In Winnipeg, a newspaper that "thirty descendants of Métis who fought alongside Louis Riel 1869-1870 it was reported ... come to enlist Qu'Appelle. They are all members of the Society of French-Canadian Métis here. Their names are inscribed in the Roll of Honour of the Company. "

A rookie 52nd William Semia , a trapper of Hudson 's Bay Company and a member of the Cat Lake Band in northern Ontario , spoke neither English nor French when he enlisted . Regardless, he learned English from another Indian volunteer and later , it often happened that gave him the task to lead platoons .

The Great War has established a remarkable record of patriotism on the part of Native Americans in a conflict that had no apparent reason for the good of their cause. Several nations made their own war , Onondaga , Mohawk and Apache declared war on Germany independently of the United States.


Originally, the Indians could not enlist in the U.S., are not U.S. citizens. Yet , 17,213 were registered for the selection and 6509 were immediately engage when the U.S. entered the war . Interestingly , as in all wars , most were voluntary.


Why do they enroll ? To this question, Janice Summerby says " one answer is not sufficient , in interviews given to the press , in the oral histories, biographies and other published works, aboriginal veterans - as their non-Aboriginal counterparts - talk their sense of adventure , the lure of regular pay and their desire to follow their friends and family members who go serve. " The motives are not lacking , ranging from patriotism to their status in the community. According to an Indian agent , " the leaders of a number of bands on the West Coast have expressed a desire to be allowed to serve the empire in the conflict and offered to send a large number of their young men so it asked. In Ontario, the Chief Jacobs FM , Sarnia , writes DC Scott to let him know that his people are ready to wear "assistance to the motherland through its struggle in Europe. The Indian race is , in principle , loyal to England, this loyalty was created by the most noble queen who ever lived , Queen Victoria . " Such patriotism is no stranger to the identities and indigenous culture. For his part, James Dempsey speaks of " the warrior ethic ," that still prevails among the Plains Indians and push young men to enlist.

Those who are experiencing a culture shock of a very special kind . "For Indians high in a traditional way of life , adapting to life in the army included its share of unique challenges ," says Gaffen . Strict military hierarchy of the Canadian Corps makes a clear distinction between officers and soldiers , while the traditional relationship between leaders and warriors are more egalitarian and familiar . Other systemic differences also pose difficulties for enlisted during World War Indians. Recruits who come from remote communities are encountering language barriers as soon as their training begins in the major centers.


Some are lucky enough to be assigned to the 107th Battalion, in which Lieutenant Colonel Glen Campbell speaks the native language of many of his men, or in an Alberta unity in its ranks 16 performers - including the commander , who himself speaks Cree, Chipewyan , Dogrib and several dialects of Inuktitut .


Another factor , health, play against the indigenous population , particularly for Aboriginal people from the most isolated places in the country where they have had little contact with the white man and the diseases it carries . These enlisted soldiers are particularly vulnerable to diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia and many of those who enroll are taken away early in their military careers . This vulnerability is also one of the reasons given by the elders remained in the country for the release of Aboriginal people serving overseas , as is the case in Blackfoot Alberta.


Native American volunteers have more losses and medals: American Expeditionary Forces has 2 % loss and the Canadian Forces expedionnary has 10 % loss . Indian 3 % loss . In contrast , only 2% of white soldiers receive medals , while 30 % of Indians will receive . These figures explain the motivation for dangerous missions Indian sniper , scout , messenger ... which allows them greater freedom of movement and thus a return to the warrior spirit .


The war stories tell us that Aboriginal soldiers truly stand in dangerous missions but essential infantry. Reports of individual acts of bravery abound, including in studies like Forgotten Soldiers ( Gaffen ) Native Soldiers , Foreign Battlefields ( Janice Summerby ) and Warriors of the King ( James Dempsey ) . Several themes emerge clearly . First and foremost , indigenous soldiers are praised for their achievements as snipers or reconnaissance scouts . Gaffen concludes that combat situation , " the skills of the hunter and Indian warrior soon made out ." Recognizes indigenous soldiers their adaptation skills and patience , but also their sense of observation , endurance and courage. Thus, because they are of indigenous origin and a rustic lifestyle ( which are added to the old stereotype of Aboriginal an extraordinary sense of deception and concealment ) , some individuals are sometimes entrusted by the army the most dangerous missions.

They also say that many Indians looking for this kind of mission and excel . Francis Pegahmagabow , an Ojibway from the agency Parry Island, Ontario , is arguably the most famous Indian for his marksmanship. He enlisted in August 1914 and served successively at Ypres, the Somme , Passchendaele and Amiens. As a sniper , he would have more than 378 casualties in the enemy ranks , which made him one of the best snipers among the Allies on the Western Front . He received numerous decorations for bravery , including the Military Medal and two bars , an honor that was granted to 39 soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) .

The Métis Henry Norwest also distinguished himself as a sniper . " He came to wait two days because two enemy snipers had heard the sound of the gun , and make as if he were one of them, knowing that the enemy suspected his presence," recalled one of his comrades after the war. "Finally, he takes both by surprise , 15 minutes apart. " Lance Corporal Norwest will officially 115 fatal shots and was decorated with the Military Medal before falling under enemy fire in August 1918.

In total, at least 37 infantrymen Aboriginal Canadians will be decorated for bravery. Aboriginal soldiers stand in other military roles and the Armistice came , he finds within pioneer battalions , forestry and maneuvers , as well as the railway troops , the Veterinary Service , Stewardship military and Canadian Engineers .


Because of their limited education , few Aboriginal people can aspire to the rank of officer, but many become NCOs corporals, sergeants and corporals alternates . In leadership roles in their care , Aboriginal people build trust and show much skill and intelligence than their non-Aboriginal peers. Some get the title of officer , often because of their value in combat , which is the case of Lieutenant Cameron Brant and Oliver Milton Martin , and captains Alexander and Charles D. Smith Smith , all from the Six Nations , and Hugh John McDonald , from the Mackenzie Valley . A small number of Aboriginal people also serve in the Royal Flying Corps / Royal Air Force , including the lieutenant James David Moses , of Ohsweken , and Lieutenant John Randolph Stacey, Kahnawake . End in March 1918 , Moses wrote to his parents :

My driver and I have been recently some very exciting experiences . We bombed the German soldiers at very low altitude and had the pleasure of shooting hundreds of machine gun bullets in these compacts . They simply scattered in all directions , stumbling . Needless to say, it was heated and when we returned to the airport , we realized that our plane was pretty bad shape.

On April 1 , his plane was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and dies . It is one of 88 volunteers from the Six Nations who die during the conflict.


Major Tom Reilly (3rd bn - 165th Inf Div - AEF ) will say that the Indians '' are always on the front. If you need to find an Indian , go to the front, and especially in the no man's land . The most incredible is when an Indian dies, there is always another to take its place immediately. ''


At least 600 Indians of Oklahoma , primarily Choctaws and Cherokees served in the 142nd Infantry of the 36th Texas Oklahoma National Guard Division . 4 of these Indians received the French War Cross .


The white officers regularly complained that white scouts often consulted their compass during reconnaissance missions at night or in dense forests, dangerously exposing themselves to German snipers.


The officers of the 142nd regiment tested it by sending scouts five Indian and five whites in a year of recognition, without a compass . The officers noted that the Indians went right on their goal , took the information and returned quickly. In contrast, the white went in all directions except the right one!


The success of Indian soldiers on the front is credited to the fear of wild feeling that the Germans. This fear was the spectacle of the Wild West Show and the book of Karl May , Winnetou , who portrayed the Indians as savages , scalper , fighting the tomahawk . The German press went on to say that there were Indians all over the front line committed to torture and scalping German soldiers. Taking advantage of this fear, the U.S. command ordered all soldiers patrolling at night, whatever their origin, should be dressed as Indians .





Many Aboriginal communities are eager to assist in any way possible. Their donations Patriotic Fund become subject to propaganda posters argue that indigenous peoples are so generous than other Canadians should follow suit . Reserve communities donate to the Red Cross , raising funds through the sale of handicrafts and knit socks and sweaters for soldiers serving overseas territories. Government officials as DC Scott provide proof, statistical evidence , even if they are often poor , Aboriginal contribute generously to the war effort. The amounts vary greatly and can range from $ 7.35 donated by the children of John Smith Reserve , more than $ 8,000 from the File Hills Agency . Even the smallest donations are given from the heart . The Oak River Sioux send their donation of $ 101 directly to the King, and declare : "Nobody asked us , we do our own volition , it is little, but we offer this gift with all my heart " .


At least 10,000 joined the Red Cross in the U.S. and handed nearly $ 25 million in war bonds.

A typical example of the Indian contribution is the story of a woman Ute 75 years in USA. Present at a meeting of the Red Cross on its reserve, she raised five fingers to signify his donation, finger representing a $ 10 donation. A few days later, when she came to sign the paper gifts, she was outraged to see the $ 50 part. She said she wanted to donate $ 500 and not $ 50. The superintendent Reserve pointed out that he would leave him $ 13 in his account as if she gave. '' $ 13 turns? It is ample enough for me, the brave soldiers need more than that to live'' was his only answer.



During the ceremony the Tomb of Unknown Soldier at Arlington on 11 November 1921, the Prince of princes, Plenty Coups was invited to represent the Indians. In his great Indian attire, he put a stick has a cap hit and war in the grave.


Raising his hands to heaven he spoke to a crowd of 100,000 people present:


'' I feel honored that the red man participate in this great event, because it shows that the thousands of Indians who fought in the Great War are appreciated by the white man. I am pleased to represent all the Indians of the United States to place on the grave of this noble warrior that stick and this war bonnet, each eagle feather headdress represents the bravery of my life. I hope the Great Spirit give these noble warriors have not given their lives in vain, and there will be peace for all men present. It is the hope of the Indians and my prayer.''
The political events of the inter -war

In the annual report of the Department of Indian Affairs in 1918-1919 , Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs , Duncan Campbell Scott, wrote:

Now that peace has returned , the Indians of Canada have reason to be proud of the role they played in the Great War , at home and on the battlefield . They were able to be faithful to the tradition of their brave ancestors who so well defended the British cause in 1776 and in 1812 and added an inheritance immortal honor, which will be an example and inspiration to their descendants .


In the aftermath of the war, however , continuity outweighs the changes in the administration of indigenous peoples. "Unlike in the country, which has made political and economic gains ," says Gaffen , "the fate of the Indians is essentially the same . The sacrifice of the dead and injured has not benefited them politically, economically or socially . " Historian James Dempsey described the disappointment felt by many Indian veterans prairie on their return home. Their discovery of the vast world has profoundly transformed , but they had left paternalistic society has not changed . They had the right to vote overseas lose their democratic rights after the war. Moreover, the unfairness of the eligibility criteria and award money measures and land for the establishment of veterans disadvantage many of the Indians who participated in the war. Having fought overseas does not change their legal status , they remain wards of the Crown.

Conscientized more on political experience at the end of the war veterans began to organize politically . Fred Loft of the Six Nations , is the head of a political movement , the League of Six Nations of Canada, the first pan-Canadian Aboriginal political organization , which was created in the early 1920s . "As peaceful and law-abiding citizens in the past, and even during the last war, we have faithfully served our king , country and empire , says Loft, and we have the right to demand a reward more justice and fairness ... ". The Veterans Treatment First Nations is one of the main concerns of Loft and other Aboriginal leaders. Aboriginal soldiers take part in the war as equals , even vote for the first time in 1917, but when they come back , they do not enjoy the same benefits as non-Indian veterans . The Soldier Settlement Act of 1917 and that of 1919, are the cornerstones of the effort by the federal government to take care of its veterans after World War effort, giving them the opportunity to acquire land and equipment for agriculture at a low interest rate . However, when registered Indians who fought express an interest in farming in their own reserves, Indian Affairs took over the Department of Soldiers ' Civil Re- in the application of this law. Complications relating to the ownership of land , both on reserve and off of them , make it becomes almost impossible for Indian veterans to obtain loans for recovery. Allegations that soldiers returning are emancipated against their will ( as well as losing their status Indians ) and are denied benefits under the Act benefits for veterans, and others that the application memorial Fund is unfair and over 85,000 acres of reserve land so-called "surplus" were sold for former non-Aboriginal wishing to establish fighters compete even more upsetting to the Aboriginal veterans in 1920s and 1930s .


Veterans raise an imprint attention sympathy. In the inter-war period (between 1919 and 1939), no report [of the Great War] is complete without one opportunity to salute the bravery of Canadian Indians to war, to paraphrase the historian Jonathan Vance. The camaraderie transcends cultural boundaries. The Royal Canadian Legion recognizes that Aboriginal veterans are treated unfairly and adopt resolutions calling for equal benefits for Indians. In 1936, government policies are revised to reflect these recommendations.