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Native American Veteran and Canadian aboriginal veteran List.

world war 2




52,961 Served

1,960 Deaths in service


On September 10, 1939, the Parliament of Canada declared war on Nazi Germany. Hitler's armies have invaded Poland, and leaders of the Western world are finding that the policy of appeasement is no longer viable. We must counter Nazi aggression, and Canada can not remain on the sidelines of another major war in which Britain is involved. Yet Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King is reluctant to commit to it completely. Initially, Canada's war effort will therefore be "limited liability". A modest single-division contingent is sent overseas, and the government is concentrating the rest of its efforts on the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and preparation for war production. Terrible events soon drag Canada into conflict, and for six painful years Canadians will invest their energies in a fight to protect and maintain the democratic ideals of the West. By the end of the war, out of a population of only 11 million, more than one million Canadians will have served in the military.

Despite the discontent expressed by Aboriginal veterans during the inter-war period, an undeniable wave of patriotism was blowing over Canada after the outbreak of the Second World War. When German armies successively invaded Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, and France in May and June 1940, the government moved from a "limited war effort" to a "total war" policy. Indigenous peoples, like all other Canadians, are called upon to make sacrifices and to contribute to the national crusade launched to defeat the totalitarian aggressor.

After the Great War, the Amerindians continued to enlist in the armed forces. At least 4,000 were in uniform in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and US National Guard before Pearl Harbor. From the declaration of war, the Indians rushed to enlist. Half of eligible men on some reserves volunteered for the service. Several tribes held special war councils to prepare for the mobilization. The Navajo Tribal Council, called a special convention in January 1942. With 50,000 tribal members present, the council declared its support for the war effort and promised to remain firm with the United States until this nation achieves a final victory, complete and lasting.

Although up to 45 per cent of Navajo volunteers were rejected due to their health and literacy needs, some 3,600 people, or 6 per cent of the tribal population, served on active service. The Navajo men were so eager to join the fight, that some arrived at the registration centers, with their pistols and shotguns. At Fort Defiance, volunteers stood in the snow for hours to sign their registration cards. Nearly a quarter of the 3,600 Navajo Ramah enlisted the day after the American declaration of war.

The same fervor has been observed throughout the Indian country. A quarter of the Apache mescalero have enlisted. At Lake Ears Reserve in Wisconsin, 100 Chippewa men enlisted on a population of 1700, and at the big portage almost all eligible Chippewa enlisted. At Fort Peck, Montana, 131 Blackfeet volunteered. Even hopi, whose members share a historical suspicion of the white world, contributed with 213 men, or 10 percent of their population of 2,205, to the armed forces.

A common misunderstanding for Indian volunteers was the hope that all those who signed up for the service but were refused, however, for reasons of age or health.

"I was rejected seven times because of age," complained a pima. "I'm only 37 years old". Another Indian Arizona, rejected to be overweight, argued, "I do not want to run. I want to fight. A chippewa, rejected because he had no teeth, would have scolded, "I do not want to bite them. I just want to shoot them! ''.


By 1942, at least 99 percent of all eligible Indian men had registered for the United States Army Selection System. If all the eligible American men had engaged in the same proportion as the tribes, there would have been no need for the selective service system. The Indian Affairs Bureau later reported that, excluding officers, 24521 Indian reserves saw military service during the war. About 20,000 off-reserve Indians also served. Approximately 45,000 Indians, more than 10% of the estimated 350,000 Indians in the United States, were serving in the armed forces during the Second World War. To this must be added nearly 8300 Indian Canadians who fought in 1939. In some tribes, up to 70% of the men were in the army. Not to mention also hundreds of Indian women who also served in the Women's Army Corps (WAC), Navy women accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES) and Army Nursing Corps. .


For some Aboriginal soldiers, military service is an adventure, an opportunity to show their loyalty to the King and Queen. Chief Walking Eagle of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, embodies this feeling when he says, "Every Indian in Canada will fight for King George. For others, it will be an opportunity to continue the tradition of the warrior or to free himself from the suffocating climate of the reserves. For many recruits filled with hope, military service is a chance to escape unemployment. The depression of the 1930s has wreaked havoc on many reserve communities and, like other Canadians, Aboriginal men want to support their families in every way possible. Becoming a soldier ensures a good salary, plus a dependency allowance. After the outbreak of the war, enthusiastic volunteers are numerous and the queues for enlistment are getting longer.

Should we be surprised? A large percentage of Aboriginal volunteers were sons and grandsons of volunteers. Examples include the McLeod family of the community of Cape Crooker in Wiarton, Ontario, and the Dreavers of the Cree Mistawisis Band. John McLeod, who was Sauteux (Ojibwa), served during the First World War and was a member of the Canada Veterans' Guard during the Second. Six of his sons and one of his daughters enlisted between 1940 and 1944; two of his boys died there and two were wounded. Joe Dreaver earned a military medal in 1914-1918 and lost two brothers, one killed in action and the other dead from his wounds. He was a member of the Veterans' Guard in 1939-1945; three of his sons, two of his daughters and his younger brother served as volunteers.

At least 340 soldiers were World War I Veterans.





Moh 6 American Medal of Honor.


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10 Distinguished Service Cross


4 Navy Cross


61 Silver Star


3 Legion of Merit


24 Distinguished Flying Cross


168 Bronze Star


454 Purple Heart


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70 Air Medal


4 Distinguished Conduct Medal


26 Military Medal


1 Greece Military Cross

In 1943, in recognition of the leadership and loyalty of four bands, King George VI awarded the British Empire Medal to the leaders of the band Nicikousemenecaning , in Ontario (formerly the Red Gut Band), of the Kitkatla Band, in British Columbia, Norway House Band, Manitoba, and Vuntut Gwitchin Band, Yukon.



In the middle of 1940, as the Allies' situation deteriorated due to the fall of France and the Netherlands, the Canadian government once again came up against the thorny issue of conscription. At the end of the First World War, Order in Council PC 111 excluded registered Indians from overseas mandatory service. As this decree is revoked before the outbreak of the Second World War, we will have to debate the issue again. Parliament passes the National Resources Mobilization Act (NRMA) on June 21, 1940 to intensify Canada's war effort. The Act requires Canadians to register so that the federal government can more effectively manage the country's resources, but provides assurances to Canadians that conscription will be used exclusively to defend the country.





The government promised the Indians - and the provisions of the NRMA gave them the assurance - that most status Indians would not be sent abroad, and many (Indians) complied with domestic conscription. Some resist the application of the Act by refusing to appear for medical examinations or by fleeing the police launched after them, protests that become more common in the aftermath of a national plebiscite held April 27, 1942 that releases the federal government's obligation to use conscripts only in defense of the country. Bill 80 allows conscription for overseas service if necessary. First Nations leaders raise the issue of equity in this regard. "Why should we be asked to go? Ask the leaders of the Blood Reserve in Alberta. The latter point out that as wards of the government who do not have the right to vote, they should not have to "submit as children and assume this responsibility in the same way as those who are fortunate enough to be citizens. full and subjects of the King ". Only their emancipation would remedy this injustice. The government responds that Indians are forced to conscript like all other Canadian men. In Quebec, an Aboriginal rights organization known as the "Protection Committee" argues that Status Indians are exempt from serving as conscripts, arguing that Indians are inferior in status under the Indian Act. sovereignty (as a nation) under the Royal Proclamation of 1763. This will result in a clash between police and aboriginal residents opposing conscription at the Caughnawaga (Kahnawake) Reserve near Montreal. In Northern Ontario, reserve communities advocate for the exemption under the terms of the Robinson-Huron and Robinson-Superior Treaties of 1850. When multiple opponents who refused to register appeal to the courts, the Department of Justice explains that "Indians, being British subjects, must comply with the provisions of Article 3 of the National War Service (Recruit) Regulations 1940. This will be the official position of the government throughout the war. Nevertheless, many Aboriginal leaders and band councils send letters and petitions to Ottawa expressing their concern about mandatory enlistment and military service. The defense of the country is not in question; almost all Aboriginal communities are willing to contribute to the war effort. The choice to serve overseas is a matter of principle. In Alberta, the chief of Peigans and his advisers "believe that Indians should not be compelled to perform military service," said the Indian agent in October 1940, "on the grounds that they are native-born Canadians. and that the treaties they signed urged them to settle, to lay down their arms and to live in peace with the whites. " Several tribal councils in northwestern Ontario are also adopting resolutions denouncing conscription and demanding that their Indian agent "use all his influence and stop all government functions." For their part, the Six Nations of Brantford, Ontario, "strongly protest against the imposition of 30 days of military training for young men on this reserve." Faced with the economic disruption created by this short cycle of service, it will be brought to four months, initially, to then keep the same 100,000 men under arms until the end of the war: Canada had passed from a "limited" war effort to a "total war" policy.

In practice, the application of the NRMA is almost impossible, especially in remote areas. The case of Edward Cardinal of Whitecourt, Alberta illustrates the difficulties faced by registrars. When a notice ordering Cardinal to undergo a medical examination before his military training is returned, intact, to the sender, the Edmonton registrar, inquire of the postmaster as to the reason for this return. He explains that Cardinal lives on a territory 12 miles north of Whitecourt and picks up mail only twice a year. Other Indians who practice hunting, fishing and trapping are even more difficult to reach and the registrar admits that in many cases it is "almost impossible" to find them. For example, in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Aboriginal people tend to treat notices with "apparent indifference," according to the Vancouver registrar. All of this makes the administration very difficult, and as a result, the government applies the regulations with very little consistency to Aboriginal men. In addition, because of language barriers and persistent health problems on many reserves, many registered Indians who register will never have to serve; therefore, conscripting efforts for Aboriginal people will yield limited results at best.



After Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, West Coast residents demand protection in the event of an attack. For this purpose, the body of the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers is created in British Columbia. Volunteer citizen soldiers help defend the "Pacific Province" by patrolling their locality, reporting any suspicious situation and using guerrilla tactics in the event of an enemy invasion. In 1943, 15,000 British Columbians and Yukoners served with the Rangers from Dawson to the Queen Charlotte Islands and to the US border. The demographic and geographic realities of isolated coastal areas make Aboriginal people "natural" Rangers. As reported by the Vancouver Sun in its March 6, 1942 edition: "Indians, who are familiar with poorly mapped trails, are offered the chance to do heroic work in the defense of the province [...], which they occupy with intelligence and sagacity the limits and the natural barriers, which they render impregnable in the face of the Japanese threat. The Pacific Coast Militia Rangers give Aboriginal people in British Columbia the opportunity to advocate for their communities while continuing their traditional work and activities. They are making a vital contribution in many areas, particularly the very long - and vulnerable - Pacific coastline, where they serve as guides and scouts for soldiers on active duty. Indigenous community members provide important operational intelligence to the military, reporting unusual activities or phenomena (including spotting Japanese incendiary balloons) until the end of the war in September 1945.







  Aboriginal women also serve and they note the camaraderie that transcends ethnic barriers. Dorothy Asquith, a Métis woman serving in the RCAF Auxiliary, writes:

Discrimination? Everyone was so engaged in everything around the war that no one had time for this kind of pettiness. I do not think anyone cared about the skin color of his comrades, especially among the men who were in combat. Cousins ??of mine told me, "Who could stop at the color of the skin of others? We were all so happy to find a place to shelter ourselves; no one cared who was with you. We were there together; two lives. That's what I think; everything was far too serious to think of things of so little importance.

P. Gayle McKenzie and Ginny Belcourt Todd interviewed some aboriginal soldiers and recorded their memories in Our Women in Uniform. These women say they have enlisted for reasons that are not dissimilar to those generally mentioned by Aboriginal men. Many women talk about the pay of 65 cents a day (less than male recruits), the opportunity to travel and patriotism. Women are trained in non-traditional jobs, but their primary role is one of support. The motto of the Royal Canadian Air Force Auxiliary is: "We serve so that men can fly." In the Canadian Women's Army Corps, Aboriginal women learn to provide first aid, military administration and car mechanics duties. In 1943, 16 of Canada's 1,800 military personnel were women. A 1950 government document indicates that 72 registered Indian women served overseas during the two wars; an estimated 800 others served in the United States.







A world war ... and burials around the world -

The number of Native American soldiers buried by country 





The direct contribution of Aboriginal peoples to the war effort through military service increases during hostilities, as it did during the First World War. In the Annual Report of the Indian Affairs Division for the year 1940, Director HW McGill observes:

Always loyal, [Indian communities] were quick to offer us their help, in men as in money. At the end of the fiscal year, about 100 Indians had enlisted and Indian contributions to the Red Cross and other funds totaled more than $ 1,300.


Indian nations invested more than $ 50 million in war bonds and help with the red cross. Not to mention the lands transferred to the government for agriculture and prison camps.


In the country itself, contributions go beyond military service. As was the case during the First World War, women's charity clubs and community groups donate and raise money for the Red Cross and other relief agencies. By the end of 1945, Indian bands in Canada had officially donated $ 23,596.71. A note found in Indian Affairs records reveals that many donations go directly to local organizations and that "substantial donations of furs, clothing and other items are made, the value of which has not been worth the money" calculated ". One community in particular receives international recognition for supporting children who have been orphaned as a result of the London air raids. In 1941, the Old Crow Indians in the Yukon sent $ 432.30 for the purchase of boots and clothing for these children. The British press underlines their generosity and the Old Crow community continues to support various war funds in the years that follow.



During the Battle of Midway in June 1942, Japan bombed and invaded the Attu and Kiska Islands in the Aleutian chain.

On Attu, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, an Indian affairs office employee, faced the invasion with the local Indian population.

The 55 Aleut who lived on the island were captured and sent to labor camps in Japan, only 24 survived the war.

More than 850 Aleuts Indians were forced to evacuate the islands and could only carry the bare minimum. The army was responsible for providing clothing and food to the deportees but failed in its mission. The Aleuts lived in pitiful conditions, lacking food. Many of the Aleuts died in the camps. The survivors returned home after the war, but found that their homes had been used by US Army soldiers and most of their belongings had been destroyed by soldiers in their absence. To protect the other Aleuts on the other islands, the government ordered the evacuation of all residents to camps built in Alaska and Washington State.





One of the icons of the Second World War is the cartoonist Bill Mauldin who served in the 45 th division.

Mauldin published cartoons from 1940 to 1945 in magazines for soldiers on the front.

He owes his celebrity to his comics of the Second World War staging two archetypes of the American soldier, "Willie and Joe" , grumpy and disheveled infantrymen who endure stoically the sentences and dangers of the front. These designs enjoyed tremendous popularity within the US Army, both in the United States and overseas theaters.

Few readers actually knew that the famous Willie was based on Rayson Billey, Choctaw Indian from Keota, Oklahoma. Billey was Mauldin's sergeant.

Mauldin said of his sergeant that he must be one of his comic book soldiers. "Ray is an old guy and a good guy. He kills men because he has to do it, it's war. He must do it but without wanting it. To kill a man does not bring him anything, to advance one step on the ground towards Berlin brings him closer to the end of the war. You can not have more human and wiser character. It's literally my guru. "






For Hitler and his propagandists, Native Americans were a useful resource against the United States in the event of war. He was counting on the misery of the Indians to turn against the American government in favor of Nazism. To spread its message, the Nazis had installed huge radio antenna to reach Indian communities. In 1938, Berlin granted the citizen Aryenne to a descendant Sioux and German, hoping thus to grant the favor of the Sioux people. The Nazis went so far as to invent the hypothesis that an ancient Germanic people set foot in America and integrated themselves into the Indian nations, which automatically conferred the Aryan nationality on all Native Americans.

In 1933, a pro Nazi group appeared in the United States, the gray shirts. The failure of American politics and Nazi propaganda will enlist thousands of Indians in this organization. With donations received from the gray shirts, from the Germano Americain background and the American nationalist confederation, weapons are quickly bought and distributed on the reserves. In 1938, the FBI will closely monitor the Indian communities of California, New Mexico, Oklahoma and even the Yaquis in Mexico. The US government fears an American Indians general uprising.

At the beginning of World War II, the American Indian Foundation rejects any Nazi ideology and banned from Indian status all nations and members enlist in American Nazi organizations. Its official representative, officially considers the members of these clubs as enemies of the American nation. Representatives of the Office of Indian Affairs will point out to the government that most Indians are against Nazi ideas and ready to serve their country.

With the advance of the war in Europe and the fall of France, Belgium and Luxembourg; a verbal war is forming in the US between pro-Nazi and pro-American Indians, but the Indian Affairs Bureau notes that the Nazi sections in the US are seeing their influence diminish rapidly in the reserves.

With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the pro-Nazi Native American groups will disappear completely and, ironically, the weapons provided to the Indians by these groups will serve as a Native American national guard in the US during WW2. Hitler's dream of conquering the US through Native Americans had just collapsed.

The Swastika was a motif used by Native Americans for thousands of years. He was found on archaeological sites in Ohio and Mississippi. It was often used in religious ceremonies in southeastern United States cultures.

For the Hopi, he represented one of his clans, among the Navajos he was the symbol of one of their legend. Traces are also found among Saskatchewan Indians in Canada and Kuna in Panama.

As a rule, the Swastika represented the creation of the world and its four cardinal points.

In 1930, the Kuna of Panama gained political independence and their flags bore the symbol of the Swastika. This flag was changed in 1942 to move away from the Nazi symbol.

Since the US declaration of war in 1941, the Indian nations of the South East of the United States signed a joint declaration allowing the destruction of all forms of Swastika in their culture.





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The most famous warriors of the Second World War were the Code Talkers, Indians who communicated messages on the battlefield in their tribal languages. The US military made extensive use of native language speakers in the Second World War. Although several tribes participated in the program, including Hopi, Comanche, Cherokee and Chippewa, the most famous were the Navajo.

Philip Johnston, a Los Angeles-based civil engineer, proposed using Navajo for the United States Marine Corps at the beginning of the Second World War. Johnston, a veteran of the First World War, grew up on the Navajo reserve because he was the son of a missionary sent to the Navajo. He was one of the few non-Navajos who spoke their language fluently. Because the Navajo has a complex grammar, it is only difficult to understand, even for those who understand nearby languages, of the Na-dene family. In addition, the Navajo was at the time an unwritten language. Johnston realized that the Navajo was meeting the military requirement to create an indecipherable code. The Navajo is spoken only on the Navajo lands of the American Southwest, moreover its syntax and sounds, not to mention its dialects, are unintelligible to anyone who does not have a great knowledge of this language. It is estimated that at the outbreak of the Second World War, less than 30 non-Navajos could understand the language.

A dictionary was designed to teach the many words and concepts to new initiates. The text was reserved for the sole teaching of the Navajo code, and was never to be swept away on the battlefield. "Those who speak the code" memorized all these variations and practiced the fast use of the code under stressful conditions during the training. The uninitiated in Navajo would have had no idea what the messages of "those who speak the code" could mean.

Navajos "who speak the code" were praised for their speed, skill and precision throughout the war. During the Battle of Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, a Signal Officer of the 5th Marine Division, had six Navajo Code Talkers who relayed continuously for the first two days of the battle. These six men sent and received more than 800 messages without making any mistakes. Connor later said, "Without the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima."

As the war progressed, codewords were added to the program. In other cases, shortened and unofficial code words were designed for a given campaign and were not used beyond the area of ??operation. In order to ensure consistent use of code terminology throughout the Pacific War, code-talkers from each of the US Marine Divisions met in Hawaii to discuss code gaps, to incorporate new terms into the code. the system, and update their dictionaries. These representatives in turn formed other code talkers who could not attend the meeting. For example, the Navajo word for buzzard, jeeshóó , was used for bomber, while the code word used for submarine, Loo Beesh , meant "iron fish" in Navajo.

The use of Navajo code talkers continued during the Korean War and even after, until the beginning of the Vietnam War.

The messages of the talker codes were seemingly unrelated Navajo word strings. Code speakers would translate each word into English and then decipher the message using only the first letter of each English word. For example, several Navajo words could be used to represent the letter A-wol-la-chee (ant / ant), be-la-sana (apple / apple), and tse-nill (ax / ax).

Although the Navajo used more than one word to represent letters, about 450 common military terms had no equivalent and therefore gave codewords.

Finally, 382 Navajo code talkers served in the peaceful theater. Some say there were 420, but many failed. "You had to know English and Navajo," said Goodluck, who served in the Third Marine Division from March 1943 to December 1945 and participated in the Guadalcanal and Bougainville invasions in the Solomon Islands; In guam; And in iwo jima.

Coders from other tribes also served in the European theater. Charles Chibitty, the last surviving Code Talker comanche, who died in July 2005, said two Comanches were assigned to each of the three regiments of the Fourth Infantry Division. They sent coded messages from the front line to division headquarters, where other comanches decoded them. Chibitty, who joined the army in January 1941 with 17 other Comanches, says they compiled a vocabulary of 100 military terms during basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. '' Machine gun became a sewing machine, '' chibitty reminded, '' because of the sound of the sewing machine made when my mother was sewing. '' Because there was no comanche word for the tank, the coders used their word for the turtle. Bombardier became a pregnant airplane. Hitler was Posah-Tai-Vo, or a crazy white man. Chibitty remembered the first message he sent on D-Day, using the Comanche Code, "Five miles to the right of the designated aircraft and five miles inland the fight is fierce and we need help".

Outside the Navajos and Comanches, 37 other tribes served as Code Talkers during the Second World War.

The Meskwaki, for example, used their language against the Germans in North Africa. Meskwaki served as a talker code from January 1941. 

During the campaigns in Europe the Cheyenne, Cherokee, Osage, Lakota, Dakota, Chippewa, Oneida, Sac and Fox, Hopi, Assiniboine, Kiowa, Pawnee, Menominee, Creek and Seminole among others served as code Talkers. Some, like the Laguna Pueblo, served with the 43rd Bomber Group in the American Air Force.

Clarence Wolf Guts, the last speaker of the surviving Lakota code who died in 2010, testified at the 2004 Senate hearing: "I am a bloodthirsty Indian, and we are doing everything we can to protect the United States because we let's love America ... I was sitting there in the fox with a radio, trying to give the orders we were given to go to the chief of staff ... We used our own code and we got did everything we could to protect our country ... When I see young children playing unattended, I realize why we are there. "

When Checker Tomkins went to war, he took with him a secret weapon that the Germans knew nothing about: his native language. He was part of a small special group of 6 Indian code talkers. His particuliarity ? they were all Canadian Crees.


The big difference with Code Talkers of World War I is the code system itself. The words were coded and then spoken in the Native American language. Even a person speaking that language could not understand the code, basically a double system of language.

In all, 552 Native Americans served as Code Talkers during the Second World War - 17 died in service.


Just like during the First World War, Amerindians faced many stereotypes since most whites had never met Indians in person.

The problem was already starting with their names. When Charles Kills The Enemy wanted to get involved, the preposter repeatedly asked him for his real last name. It took Kills the enemy a long way to prove that he was serious and that it was his real name.

Another known case is that of Get Shot With Two Arrows (was wounded by two arrows). Injured in battle, when the nurse reads her file at the hospital, she asked him how he could have been injured by two arrows. "Get Shot With Two Arrows" explained to him that it was not his injury but his name.

Very often, the Indians were nicknamed Chef or Geronimo by their brother in arms. The Indians felt little offense to these nicknames, they were ignorant rather than racist, and as some veterans will report later, it was a sign of respect on the part of the whites who misunderstood why the Indians served as proudly their former enemies.

The greatest cultural difference between whites and Indians was found mainly in handicrafts and ceremonies. Very often, the Indians carried on them objects such as feathers, medicine bag, sweet grass ... Returned to the country, the veterans burned most of these objects, thus purifying their souls and their spirit.

These objects also mark the respect of the enemy. When Frankie Redbone, a Kiowa, was captured in 1944; the Germans asked him to put all his goods on the table. The German guard noticed a small medicine bag in the pile and asked Redbone what it was. "Indian Medicine," Redbone replied. The guard took all of Redbone's property, except the medicine bag, hoping that he would help Redbone during his captivity ... which lasted 8 months without incident.

In the Pacific, several ceremonies were conducted by the Indians present, and very often, curiosity once passed, white soldiers were invited to participate. According to articles of the time, ceremonies were conducted by soldiers Apache, Comanche, Crow, Kiowa, Navajo, Pima and Pueblo. Among them were the devil's dance, the eagle dance, the hoop dance, the war dance and the song of the mountains.


One of the best-known individuals was the Pima Ira Hamilton Hayes, one of the Marines who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. At the age of 19, he left school to enlist in the Marine Corps. His tribal president told him to be an honorable warrior and to honor his family. Nicknamed "chief falling cloud" at the parachuting school in san diego, California, Hayes was assigned to a parachute battalion after graduation. He ended up in the US invasion force that attacked the Japanese stronghold of iwo jima. There, on February 23, 1945, he and five others raised the United States flag at the top of Mount Suribachi in a dramatic moment captured for posterity by the battle photographer Joe Rosenthal. Three of the flag lifters died in the fighting continue on the island, and a fourth was wounded.

After the war, Hayes tried to live an anonymous life on the reserve, but it was impossible. "I kept hundreds of letters," he says. "And people were driving through the reserve, walking up to me and asking, are you the Indian who raised the flag on Iwo Jima?" Alcohol has become his only escape. "I was sick," he explained. "I guess I was about to crack thinking all my good friends. They were better men than me and they did not come back, like me ''.

He was never married, and he was unable to return to normal life, Hayes died in January 1955 at the age of 32. He died just ten weeks after attending the dedication ceremony in Washington DC of The Bronze Replica of Photography that had caused him so much pain and torment. Characterized by his pima people as a hero, Corporal Hayes is buried in Arlington Cemetery, a short distance from the Iwo Jima Memorial.




Heroes to remember


Thomas George Prince had been a cadet of the army in his brief years at the Elkhorn boarding school. It was in the worst years of the economic crisis and Prince lived on cutting wood, trapping, picking berries and any job he could find. On June 3, 1940, he enlisted in the army where, perhaps because he was more educated than many of his comrades and knew a little English, he was given a training sapper. In December, he went overseas with the 1st Division and was promoted in February 1941 to the rank, still subordinate, of Lance Corporal. When the army decided to train paratroopers, he volunteered and was accepted. His training completed in England, he was brought back to Canada in September 1942 and assigned to the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. In March 1943 he was a sergeant. This battalion formed one-third of the Canada-US "First Special Service Force", a formation that was to be unique and consisted of 1,600 men who had been trained not only in skydiving, but also in skiing, demolition techniques, and close combat. . As the prospects for airborne or ski operations were slim at that time, the formation was dispatched to Italy in the autumn of 1943, and soon found itself holding almost one-third of the perimeter of Anzio, that bridgehead that the Allies struggled to keep, until they were joined by the bulk of their forces advancing along the peninsula. It was here that Prince distinguished himself for the first time and earned a military medal for bravery. Prince distinguished himself again and was awarded the American Silver Star.

After the war, Prince returned to civilian life and became a spokesperson for the Manitoba Indian Association. He sought better schools for his people, better quality on-reserve roads, financial assistance to establish farms and small businesses, and the protection of his hunting, fishing and trapping rights. But all these efforts resulted in only a few tiny changes to the Indian Act. He became a lumberjack again during the winter months and was employed in a cement plant in the summer. But five years after leaving the military, he was once again wearing the uniform, this time in Korea where the three medals he earned would make him one of Canada's most decorated aboriginals.


After a bridge was built to cross a canal, machine gunner Richard Patrick, a member of the Okanagan Band of British Columbia and attached to the 5th Anti-tank Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery, committed himself to the Dawn of the next day with a team with a 17-pound M-10 gun supported by two tanks.

After the M-10 had targeted several positions suspected to be occupied by the enemy, it became difficult to accurately determine enemy positions due to poor visibility and fog. The gunner Patrick asked permission to continue on foot and to carry out a reconnaissance of these positions. In spite of the enemy fire, he managed to reach the middle of a nest of enemy machine guns and opened fire with the machine gun. His daring attack completely surprised the enemy - 3 officers and 52 soldiers - who had to surrender, thus clearing a strong position that had stopped our infantry for two days.


On February 26, 1945, No. 7 Platoon of Company A of the 1st Battalion, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada attacked a heavily defended enemy position on open ground. The platoon suffered heavy casualties, including its commander and sergeant. The Nahwegezhic fielder was badly hit in the head but continued to advance. The peloton finally had to withdraw. Rifleman Nahwegezhic refused to retreat and remained behind, armed with his Bren submachine gun, to cover the retreat. His resolute attitude and precise shots allowed the peloton to regroup in the rear and reorganize to lead another successful assault. Nahwegezhic, whose younger brother had been killed in action earlier in Italy, succumbed to his injuries two days later, becoming eligible for the military medal.


One of the lesser-known heroes of the 45th US Division is brummett echohawk, a pawnee who won 3 purple hearts and 3 bronze stars for his exploits in Italy during the Second World War. After the war, he became one of Oklahoma's finest artists, a talent he perfected during the lulls on the battlefields of Italy.

But echohawk first aspired to be a warrior, not an artist, when he dropped out of high school in 1940 at the age of 17 and joined the National Guard. "When I was young, growing up in Pawnee, Oklahoma, I used to listen to old Pawnee Indians telling stories of warriors and battles on the Great Plains. When a warrior distinguished himself in battle, the people gave him a name with great ceremony. The name was an honor. Songs were composed describing his feat of bravery. The songs have been passed down from generation to generation. The warrior was held in honor all his life because he had defended his people and his country. My grandfather had been a great warrior. He died when I was two years old; However, I saw other old pawnee warriors. In their twilight, they were always proud. To see them and to respect them, I really wanted to be a warrior myself. "

As sergeant in Company B of the 179th Regimental Combat Company, an all-Indian unit of Pawnee, Oklahoma, Echohawk has fulfilled his dream. He was part of the US force that landed in Sicily and then stormed Anzio, considered a turning point in the Allied victory in the Second World War.


Andrew Bird in Ground was one of those unknown heroes. During the Allied landing in Normandy, he won the bronze star with three staples. The Crows say he should have received the medal of honor. When he returned from the war, the Crows gave him a new name, Kills Many Germans, in recognition of his bravery on the battlefield. Bird in Ground, himself was very modest about his exploits. He explained that he fought so hard '' because my address at the time was in Oregon. I was scared if I was killed in battle, they did not bury me on the reserve of Crows at Montana. I was not trying to be a hero. ''

He was a hero for his people, nonetheless. Shortly after returning from the war, Bird in Ground was visited by worried parents of a newborn, Kenneth Old Coyote. old coyote, they said, was seriously ill and could not live. They used Bird in ground to visit their son at Billings Hospital and pray for him. Having survived such a terrible battle, they said, it was obvious that God had blessed him, giving him special powers. Would he try to help his son? Bird in ground visited and prayed for old coyote; He also gave him his new name, Kills many germans. Twenty years later, during the war in Vietnam, Kills many germans won the bronze star himself for saving two wounded comrades under enemy fire.



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The survivors

For some Indian soldiers, their memories of war do not speak of combat feats but mere survival. One of those soldiers was Alexander Mathews, a pawnee from Oklahoma. A prisoner in 1942, Mathews survived Japanese imprisonment for release at the end of the war in 1945. Until his death in 2008, he was also one of two tribal members for whom Prisoner of War singing Pawnee could still be sung. The honor now rests on the last survivor, Gary Gover, who was captured in Vietnam.

In December 1941, Mathews was with the 200th Coastal Artillery in the Philippines on the Bataan Peninsula, across a wide bay of Manila. Their mission was to shoot down Japanese planes attacking the fortified corregidor island. It was a desperate task because Japanese planes were flying too high and fast for their 3-inch guns. Its crew could claim to have shot down a single Japanese bomber before US forces, poorly equipped and undernourished on Bataan, surrendered in April 1942.

More than 70,000 Americans and their Filipino allies were then regrouped for a forced march of some 70 miles to the first of many prison camps that would become their homes over the next four years. The prisoners, all hungry and already sick of malaria for many of them, received little pity for their Japanese captors, who considered them cowards for surrender. Those who were late on the march were struck, passed to the bayonet, and fussillied. "I think the Japanese intention for most of us was to die along the way so they would not have to take care of us." Recalls Mathews.

Mathews, who had studied at the Haskell Institute before the war began, credited the discipline he had received at Indian school to help him survive during his grueling 42 months as a prisoner of war.

At Indian school we learned to endure hard discipline. This experience was very valuable in the sense that at that time the Indian school was very military-minded. During the death march, mathews met phillip coon, a school mate creek. Coon survived the march, but another American Indian, a navajo named herbert sherman, did not survive. Coon and I stuck together, and today he is one of the few people I can talk to, who understands the horrors of the Second World War in the Philippines. Of the 1,800 soldiers in his regiment, only 900 survived the war.

At the end of the war mathews was tasked to unload Japanese ships. We thought the fencers had to be very close, as our Japanese guards had become restless. One morning we went to the docks to unload. everything was quiet where I worked. The Japanese, all in uniform, were listening to a radio. Finally, they came back and said yasame, which means rest, so we walked towards our camp. That's how I discovered that we dropped the atomic bombs on hiroshima and nagasaki. We were in the north, and they hit the south. then a day or two later, the guards entered the camp and said they had surrendered.

During his captivity, Mathews was holding a rice paper diary. On August 15, 1945, the entry reads, '' free at least! SENSATIONAL !.''


Other captured soldiers will not have the chance to travel to prison camps. At least 4 Canadian soldiers were riflemen by SS troops: Mi'kmaq Doucette Charles on July 7, 1944, The peepeekeesis Dumont John donald and the Métis Morin napoleon w June 11, 1944, and the Métis Morin norman Joseph July 9, 1944.

After the Battle of Hong Kong, nearly 2,000 members of the Winnipeg Grenadiers and Royal Rifles of Canada became Japanese POWs. Among them were at least 16 First Nations and Métis people, nine of whom died of injury or illness.